LOS ANGELES (AP) — Southern California played with a chip on its shoulder. First, the Trojans were still mad about teammate De’Anthony Melton being held out this season. Second, they didn’t like the reminders Utah was dropping about its eight-game winning streak over the Trojans.
Jonah Mathews scored 17 points to help the Trojans (13-6, 4-2 Pac-12) complete a weekend sweep after routing Colorado by 19 points.
“We made a statement to Utah because they were talking trash to us,” Mathews said. “Before, during, after — the whole game. We tried to keep our composure and let the scoreboard talk for us as it did.”
The Utes (10-7, 2-4) were led by Justin Bibbins with 19 points, all in the second half. They hit consecutive 3-pointers to open the game for their only lead.
Then the rout was on.
USC raced to a 32-11 lead, making eight 3-pointers by four different players in the run. The Trojans shot 60 percent from long range on the way to a 46-22 halftime lead. They had balanced scoring, too, with Shaqquan Aaron, Jordan McLaughlin and Elijah Stewart each chipping in nine points.
“They made a lot of threes at the beginning of the game that we shouldn’t have let them make,” said Jayce Johnson, who had 14 points and nine rebounds. “If we can stop that, then we can take control of the game.”
The Utes were plagued by 32 percent shooting — making just eight field goals — and 11 turnovers that led to 15 points by the Trojans in the half.
USC kept up its sharpshooting in the second half.
Bennie Boatwright, who had just two points in the first half, scored eight of USC’s first 11 points, extending the lead to 57-32.
From there, Boatwright and Jonah Mathews combined for nine straight points, making it 66-39. Mathews hit the Trojans’ 13th 3-pointer and McLaughlin made their 14th
“We’ve been dang good at defending the 3-point line. We lead the conference in it,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “We need to take a look at where our breakdowns are coming and get them fixed.”
Bibbins had five of the Utes’ 10 3-pointers.
USC’s McLaughlin finished with 14 points and Boatwright had 13 points.
The Trojans found out earlier in the week that Melton, a sophomore guard, will be held out for the season after the school determined that a close family friend received an extra benefit, which triggered an NCAA violation.
USC’s Chimezie Metu and Utah’s Chris Seeley were called for double technical with 6 minutes remaining in the game. They were going for a rebound under the basket and Metu shoved Seeley. Boatwright got a technical earlier in the half. Aaron said Metu is playing angry right now because of the Melton decision. “They’re pretty close,” Aaron said.
HE SAID IT
“I like the way we finish the game. We had some guys who were competing. It didn’t look real sexy but that’ll take you a long way if you bring that kind of effort.” — Krystkowiak.
Utah: The Utes ended a lost weekend in Los Angeles, having been beaten by 19 points at UCLA. Now they’re in the lower tier of the league standings and have to face third-place Washington this week with first-place Arizona looming on Jan. 27. “Our mojo is a little damaged right now,” Krystkowiak said.
USC: The Trojans cruised to two easy wins and moved into a tie for second in the Pac-12 with UCLA.
Utah: At Washington on Thursday and at Washington State next Sunday.
USC: At Oregon on Thursday and at Oregon State on Saturday.
Stats: USC 84, Utah 67
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