Utah 69 - USC 66
LAS VEGAS – Utah, which rolled into the postseason as winners of two straight, kept the momentum going by picking up its first-ever Pac-12 Tournament victory 69-66 over USC Wednesday night.
Senior Jarred DuBois added 15 of his 22 points after halftime to lead the Utes (14-17). Jordan Loveridge continued his stellar freshman campaign by chipping in 15 points and nine rebounds. Utah led comfortably at times and uncomfortably at others, but made enough big plays to survive. "We managed to build ourselves to a couple of double-digit leads but got away from playing the way we were playing," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "But I was really proud of our guys. I think we’ve grown this season. Earlier this season this was a kind of game that withered away and we had a hard time closing. "We’re thrilled, thrilled to be moving on."
Neither team looked sharp early with both shooting under 40 percent in the first half. After coming out from halftime, however, it turned into a game of runs. Utah led by double digits. Then USC battled back. The Utes responded. The Trojans responded once again. The Trojans used a 14-2 run to cut the lead to four with less than three minutes left to give the game life late. DuBois nailed a three, however, and Jason Washburn threw down a dunk to push lead back to six with 1:50 left. "I was just trying to make plays," DuBois, who also dished four assists, said. USC’s Byron Wesley fired up the crowd with a high-flying putback to cut the lead to four with 50 seconds left. Glen Dean hit two free throws at the other end but J.T. Terrell responded with a contested three as part of his 14 points on the night to shave the lead to three with 40.1 seconds left. The Trojans forced a missed shot on the defensive end but couldn't recover the loose ball in time to get off a shot before the buzzer.
"Three-point game, I didn't want to foul and make it two possessions," Trojans interim head coach Bob Cantu said. "We fumbled it and it was just kind of a scramble there at the end. It worked out how we wanted but we just couldn't get a shot off." Center Omar Oraby, starting in place of the suspended Dewayne Dedmon, played well on both ends of the floor. The 7-foot-2 transfer from Rice scored 18 to reach double digits for the first time in nearly a month and help limit Utah to just 14 points in the paint. "I’m proud of our guys overall and we just came up a little bit short," Cantu said. "We had one win last year (in conference) and we had nine this year. That’s a big improvement." Utah became only the second No. 10 seed to beat the No. 7 seed in Pac-12 Tournament history, and extended their winning streak to three for the first time since joining the conference. The Utes move on to face Cal on Thursday at 6 p.m. PT on Pac-12 Networks. "I feel like we're coming together when we need to come together at the right time,” Washburn said. "We're going up against a tough defensive team again with arguably the best player in our conference (in Allen Crabbe), and we're going to have to be even better than we were tonight and we'll have to take the fight to them."
Game Photos (Eric Evans Photography):