Frenetic runs define the game of basketball and this one was no different. Washington and USC each had stretches of this game where they looked dominant, but in the end the scores weren't all too dissimilar. The Trojans were able to hand on to their undefeated home record with a 98-88 win against the Huskies.
Few expected this tilt to be a matchup of two teams sitting near the top of the conference, but the Huskies walked into the Galen Center tied for first in the Pac with Oregon and the Trojans were only a game behind.
It didn't start out looking like a heavyweight tilt, however with both teams starting off cold from the field and especially the perimeter, combining to miss their first seven treys before Dominic Green finally found the bottom of the net from beyond the arc with 11:31 remaining. Donaven Dorsey followed it up with a triple of his own to give Washington an 18-16 lead, its first since Andrew Andrews opened the scoring with a two-point jumper.
After the back-to-back threes, the wheels fell off for the Huskies. USC started to hit its jumpers alongside dominating the glass. USC fought back to retake the lead at 23-22 and went on a 13-2 run to put the score at 36-24, and the Trojans took a double-digit advantage into halftime at 44-33.
Andrew Andrews was unable to get foul calls in that first half, and was 0-4 from the field following the first basket of the game. Marquese Chriss led the Huskies with eight, while USC was led with Nikola Jovanovic (11) and Jordan McLaughlin (9). The biggest difference statistically was the reboudning margin - USC had 24 rebounds to Washington's 17. It led to 13 second chance points for the Trojans versus just two for the Dawgs.
To open the second half Washington flipped the script, grabbing four offensive rebounds in the first four minutes and hitting three triples in the first five minutes. It didn't last, however. UW was able to cut the lead down to three behind its high-flying act, with lob passes and rebounds leading the way. USC continued to exploit mismatches with Jovanovic getting Andrews and Murray being switched under the design of Lorenzo Romar's defense.
Jovanovic also took advantage of a clearly-less-than-100-percent Noah Dickerson, nursing a foot injury. For a large part of the game Washington was fortunate with Malik Dime and Chriss avoiding foul trouble, allowing Dickerson to not be forced into too many minutes, but even then he was on the other end of multiple Jovanovic baskets.
The Dawgs kept battling and clawing but it just wasn't enough. USC hit its free throws throughout the entire game. The Trojans came into the game shooting 67 percent from the line as a team but today was 32-37. A similar but opposite out-of-character experience came from the Huskies behind the arc, the Dawgs are an average three point shooting team on average but was a pitiful 8-32.
The two teams leading the conference in scoring put up a whole lot of buckets in a game where an under-control possession was less common than the ball switching hands three times at midcourt before someone ended up at the rim with the ball. Sounds about right for the Huskies this season.
- USC did its best to take advantage of matchups with Jovanovic. When Dickerson was forced to defend the big man, he would take part in a pick and roll sequence. When USC ran set plays, it typically ended with Jovanovic isolated against a Husky guard - and that means easy points on the block for a guy as skilled as Jovanovic. He finished with 28, though only had five rebounds to his credit. Most of the damage in that department was done by Bennie Boatwright who finished with eight, a game-high.
- The Huskies matched USC at the foul line, hitting 24-28. Washington is third in the conference in three point shooting percentage on the year. This is undoubtedly due more to Andrews' individual prowess than anything else, but Dickerson is the only Husky to regularly get to the foul line and shoot below 60 percent. free throws are a definite strength of this squad.
- A split on the road in this Pac-12 is nothing to scoff at, and a split against USC is impressive in itself. The Trojans have fought their way out of the cellar this season to become a contender for the Pac-12, seemingly out of nowhere.