USC beats Cal for first Pac-12 win of season
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Nikola Jovanovic scored a career-high 23 points and Southern California led all the way in beating California 77-69 Wednesday night for the Trojans’ first Pac-12 victory after an 0-5 start.
Byron Wesley added 14 points and seven rebounds, Julian Jacobs and Pe’Shon Howard had 12 points each, while Howard had 10 assists for the Trojans (10-9, 1-5). They ended their worst start in league play since 2012. Jovanovic made 8 of 10 field goals and all seven of his free throw attempts.
Justin Cobbs scored 22 points and Jordan Mathews added 18 for the Golden Bears (14-5, 5-1). The loss left idle No. 1 Arizona as the league’s only undefeated team. The Bears had their six-game overall winning streak snapped and their four-game streak against USC ended.
Cal big men Richard Solomon and David Kravish combined for 19 points. They had been averaging a combined 33.8 points. Solomon had 13 rebounds.
The Trojans had lost a season-high five straight by an average of 22.4 points under first-year coach Andy Enfield. But they came out energized from the opening tip, racing to a 19-8 lead.
Led by Jovanovic, a 6-foot-10 freshman from Serbia, and Omar Oraby, a 7-2 senior from Egypt, the Trojans were able to control the boards, 37-33, while limiting the shots of the 6-10 Solomon and 6-9 Kravish. USC dominated the paint, 44-26. Oraby finished with nine points and seven rebounds.
Solomon fouled out with 1:07 to go after scoring four points on 2-of-2 shooting in the second half.
— USC Men's Basketball (@USC_Hoops) January 23, 2014
The Trojans shot 56 percent in the first half. USC stretched its lead to 35-22 — largest of the half — on Howard’s 3-pointer.
The Bears got within five points late in the half before USC closed with a 6-2 spurt to lead 41-32 at the break. Cal was held to 32 percent shooting.
Cal got no closer than seven points twice — the first time on Kravish’s first basket of the game to open the second half and later on a 3-pointer by Tyrone Wallace with 1:36 left. The Bears were seeking their first 6-0 start in league play since 2003 when they began 7-0.
USC built its largest lead, 64-49, on a basket by Jacobs with 8 minutes to go.