USC Basketball vs. Colorado: Trojans Hang On For Key Road Win
USC basketball held on in the final seconds to notch a critical win on the road over Colorado, 71-68, righting the ship after two straight losses.
The lowdown: The game started out even, but the Buffaloes pulled ahead with a nine-point run including back-to-back three pointers and an additional three points from a fouled attempt from distance.
Colorado’s hot shooting continued to trouble the Trojans, who fell behind 22-13 midway through the first half with the Buffaloes shooting 5-of-8 from distance.
Chimezie Metu’s consistent shooting helped keep USC in the contest. He had 12 points in 13 minutes while the Trojans clawed back to 25-20.
Jordan McLaughlin knocked down USC’s first three of the night with under three minutes remaining in the half to pull the Trojans within three points.
And of course it was Metu who drew the deficit down to just one as he tallied his 20th point of the half. USC trailed 35-34 at the break.
To start the second half Elijah Stewart got into the game, giving USC their first lead with a lay up.
With Metu in foul trouble, the rest of the Trojan line up picked up the pace, helping USC take a 53-50 lead.
A contested foul on a block of a Stewart lay up sent the guard to the line, growing the Trojan lead to five points with five minutes to play.
Freshman Jonah Mathew’s knocked down a corner three with 2:45 remaining to put USC up 67-60.
However, Colorado’s Xavier Johnson hit a timely three-pointer to cut the Trojans’ advantage to just two points with a minute left.
Johnson came up clutch again, beating the shot clock on a chaotic Colorado possession to sink a desperation triple.
Metu responded immediately, hitting a jump hook on the other end to give USC back the 69-68 lead.
After the Trojans got a stop on the defensive end and Stewart hit a pair of free throws, Colorado’s final attempt came up short and USC claimed the 71-68 victory.
The takeaway: Having lost three of five games in conference, including three of their last four contests, USC desperately needed a win to get back on track in the Pac-12.
It didn’t look good early, but the Trojans leaned on the hot hand of Metu and tightened up their defense in the second half.
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With a tough slate including Arizona and UCLA in the next ten days, Andy Enfield will be concerned about allowing Colorado, a generally poor distance shooting team, to hit so many three-pointers.
It’s also a concern that USC couldn’t seem to put the Buffaloes away, allowing them back into the game in the nervy final minutes.
Having said that, road wins are hard to come by in the Pac-12 and the Trojans can take pride in finishing this one off, unlike last week’s last-second loss to Cal.
USC’s Player of the game: Chimezie Metu; 24 points, 11/15 FGs, 2/2 FTs, 5 rebounds.
Stat of the game: Metu’s 24 points are a career high.
Next on tap: The Trojans welcome Arizona to the Galen Center for a Thursday night match up at 6:00 p.m.