LOS ANGELES (AP) — Delon Wright scored 20 and hot-shooting Utah kept Southern California in the Pac-12 cellar by holding off a late run Thursday night for a 79-71 victory in Galen Center.
The win, Utah’s third straight, moves the Runnin’ Utes (17-7, 6-6) into a tie for seventh in the conference with Washington. For the Trojans (10-14, 1-10), it was their fifth straight loss and 10th in their last 11 games — all in the Pac-12.
Utah broke the game open to start the second half for a 56-39 lead on 8-of-11 shooting, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range. The Utes never trailed in the second, although USC cut its deficit to 71-67 with 3:15 left.
Wright, playing in his hometown, also led Utah with nine rebounds while Jordan Loveridge added 19 points.
Byron Wesley led the way for USC with 20 points.
Utah led 60-44 with 10:15 left in the game only to see USC claw back on a 23-11 run to trail 71-67 on a Nikola Jovanovic jumper with 3:15 to go. But that was as close as the Trojans could get.
Loveridge made the play of the game, hitting a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired with 1:32 left to give Utah a 76-68 lead.
USC jumped out to a 21-14 lead in the first 10 minutes; the Trojans looked as if they were determined to escape the league cellar on this night. A win here would have pushed them past Washington State (2-10) into 11th place.
But Wright led a 14-2 run that turned the momentum and gave Utah a 36-31 halftime lead.
USC went with a new starting lineup featuring two players who had yet to start a game this season — D.J. Haley and Brendyn Taylor — and Strahinj Gavrilovic, who had started just once. It helped for a while and gave the Trojans nine first-half scorers.