It’s hard to believe No. 25 USC scored the game’s first 10 points.
Outside of that first 3:10 of the first half, Utah was in control, laying down the hammer on the Trojans, 86-64, on Thursday night. The Utes, in the process, landed their best win to date as they head into a marquee conference showdown with No. 4 UCLA.
Lorenzo Bonam led the Utes with 17 points. Devon Daniels and David Collette each had 15 points, while Kyle Kuzma recorded a double-double of 12 points and 11 boards. Chimezie Metu had 17 points in a losing effort.
For USC, which will fall from the rankings come Monday, after starting the season 14-0, this is the third loss in the past four games. It followed a familiar pattern as previous losses against Oregon and Cal. Kyle Kuzma caused matchup problems and David Collette was a force down low. Length, once again, affected the USC offense, while the Trojan defense got burnt from beyond the arc (9-of-17). In addition, Elijah Stewart was held scoreless (0-for-6) for the first time this season. As league play as begun, you wonder what a difference a healthy Bennie Boatwright, who has missed the past 13 games with an MCL injury, would make for Andy Enfield’s team.
But as USC has struggled, Utah is looking improved, and maybe making a push for the bubble as Selection Sunday nears. This win is its best to date (USC is ranked 52nd in kenpom and 27th in the RPI), but they still have plenty of work to do to bolster its NCAA Tournament resume. Remember, two of their 12 wins came against non-Division I opponents and Utah also whiffed against key non-conference wins against Butler and Xavier, while landing a bad loss to San Francisco.
Thursday’s win is a good start. But the Utes have little room for error moving forward, as the fourth-ranked Bruins come to town on Saturday.