Trojans Still Seeking First Conference Win

Jan. 8, 2005

By JOHN NADEL
AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES - Jeff Varem scored nine of his 21 points in the first nineminutes of the second half Saturday night to help Washington State break open atight game, and the Cougars beat Southern California 69-52.

Varem, a 6-foot-6, 240-pound senior from Nigeria, is averaging 17.7 pointsin the Cougars' four Pac-10 games. He shot 10-of-13 against the Trojans, givinghim 28 field goals in 41 attempts in conference play. He is averaging 10.4points overall.

Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver added 10 points each for the Cougars (7-6, 2-2Pac-10).

Lodrick Stewart scored 14 points for the Trojans (8-7, 0-4). USC is off toits worst conference start since beginning the 1990-91 season with four leaguelosses before rebounding to make the NCAA tournament.

The Cougars shot 63.6 percent in the second half (14-of-22) and 58.7 percentoverall, while the Trojans shot 28 percent after halftime (7-of-25) and 34percent overall.

Neither team led by more than four points until the Cougars went on an 18-4run to finish the first half and start the second for a 42-29 lead. Low scoredhis first five points of the game to complete the spurt.

The Trojans closed within nine points before two layups by Varem and basketsby Weaver and Chris Schlatter put the Cougars on top 51-34 lead with 8{ minutesremaining.

At that stage, the Cougars had outscored the Trojans 19-7 in the secondhalf.

USC scored the next eight points to draw within nine again before Varem'sdunk with 5:03 left triggered a 18-10 spurt to finish the game.

Stewart, USC's leading scorer, made two 3-pointers in the first 3{ minutesfor the Trojans' first six points, but didn't score again until making another3-pointer with 14 minutes left to play, cutting WSU's lead to 42-32.

Both teams went cold after a basket by USC freshman Gabe Pruitt with nineminutes left in the half cut Washington State's lead to 21-20. Nobody scoredagain WSU's Randy Green made a basket 4{ minutes later.

The Trojans didn't score for nearly six minutes before a layup by GreggGuenther and a three-point play by Pruitt 30 seconds later gave them a 25-24lead. The Cougars went ahead for good on Thomas Kelati's 3-pointer a minutelater, snapping a 27-27 tie. It was 32-27 at halftime.

Pruitt, who had eight points and five rebounds, was helped off the floorwith 2:07 remaining after sustaining a bruised left kneecap. USC senior guardErrick Craven, who led the Pac-10 in steals last season, missed his fifth gamebecause of a sprained right ankle.

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