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Hot-handed Utah downs USC, 79-71

The Utes pull away with three-pointers and stop a late comeback attempt by the Trojans, who lose for the 10th time in last 11 games.

February 13, 2014|By Jim Peltz
  • Byron Wesley had 20 points with seven rebounds for USC in the Trojans' 79-71 loss Thursday to Utah at Galen Center.
Byron Wesley had 20 points with seven rebounds for USC in the Trojans'… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)

Much to USC's dismay, Utah forward Jordan Loveridge got hot from three-point territory in the first half Thursday night, sinking three shots from long range.

Then his Utes teammate Brandon Taylor got in on the three-point act. And so did yet another Utah forward, Dakarai Tucker.

Their long-distance display proved too much for USC, despite a late-game comeback attempt by the Trojans, and Utah defeated USC, 79-71, at the Galen Center.

It was the 10th loss in the last 11 games for USC, which is 10-14 overall and 1-10 in Pac-12 play, which is why the Trojans are last in the conference standings.

USC also lost for the second time to Utah (17-7, 6-6) this season; the Utes defeated the Trojans in Utah, 84-66, on Jan. 16.

Delon Wright, who entered the game as Utah's leading scorer with an average 16 points a game, led the Utes again with 20 points against the Trojans.

But Wright's teammates provided the deciding three-point offense, enabling Utah to open up the 36-31 lead it held at halftime to as many as 17 points.

USC cut Utah's lead back down to five points with four minutes left in the game when the Trojans' Kahlil Dukes made a layup on a fastbreak.

But USC couldn't catch Utah and, with 1:32 remaining, Loveridge hit another three-pointer to all but seal the Utes' victory.

"I thought if we held them there we had a chance to maybe tie the game or at least make it a one-possession game down the stretch," said USC Coach Andy Enfield.

Loveridge overall was four for seven from three-point range and finished with 19 points. Taylor and Tucker also each sank three three-pointers.

Byron Wesley, the Trojans' leading scorer, again led USC with 20 points and the freshman Dukes came off the bench to score 10 points.

Utah's long-range accuracy often helped stop the Trojans from generating any momentum.

Early in the second half, for instance, USC's Julian Jacobs sank a three-point shot of his own to pare the Utes' lead to three points.

But Jacobs' score immediately was offset as Taylor ran back down the court, stopped and sank another three-pointer of his own.

Enfield said the Trojans, whose field-goal percentage was 45.5%, missed too many open shots that would have kept the game closer.

"We need to convert," he said. "When the other team is going on a run we have to make our easy shots."

Thursday night's game also was another case of how the Trojans have had a tough time in the second half this season.

Entering the game against Utah, USC had been outscored, 179-139, in the second half and overtime periods, and opponents had 28 more free throws after halftime.

james.peltz@latimes.com

Twitter: @PeltzLATimes

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