USC’s men’s basketball team dropped its second game against a ranked opponent on the road in three days, as the Trojans’ late rally fell short in a 75-67 loss to No. 18 New Mexico.
All of USC’s starters scored in double digits, with senior forward Eric Wise leading the charge for the Trojans (3-5) with 14 points.
However, the bench contributed only seven points, and the team was outrebounded 29-23 by New Mexico (9-0).
After trailing by as much as 17 points in the second half, senior point guard Jio Fontan hit two free throws to cut the Lobos’ lead to 70-65 with 2:18 left.
But New Mexico guard Kendall Williams knocked down a 3-pointer on the next trip down the court to put the game out of reach.
After a lackluster offensive performance against Nebraska on Monday, USC came out firing on all cylinders against the Lobos, who entered the game as one of only 20 undefeated teams in the nation.
The Trojans made nine of their first 10 field goal attempts, including their first seven two-point shots, on their way to staking out a 28-18 lead.
But New Mexico dominated for the rest of the first half, claiming a 43-34 halftime lead on a 25-6 run led by guard Hugh Greenwood, who sank four three-pointers during the team’s hot streak.
Overall, the Lobos converted 11 of their 24 attempts from beyond the arc, led by Greenwood’s five treys and 17 points, a game high.
It marked the fourth consecutive game in which the Trojans have allowed an exorbitant number of 3-pointers by their opponents.
Five minutes into the second half, New Mexico forward Cameron Bairstow slammed home a dunk and forward Alex Kirk, who recorded a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds, followed up on the Lobos’ next possession with a trey to extend their advantage to 57-42.
That lead proved too much for the Trojans to whittle down completely.
There were some positives for USC to take from the loss, however; New Mexico had come into the game holding opponents’ shooting percentage under 40 percent, and the Trojans converted 52.9 percent of their chances from the floor — almost 13 percent better than the 40 percent field goal percentage they were collectively shooting entering the matchup.
Before Wednesday, the Lobos were second in the nation in free-throw attempts per game (29.6), but the Trojans only let them get to the charity stripe 14 times, where the Lobos converted eight of their free throws.
USC junior guard J.T. Terrell, who has proven to be a streaky shooter this season, made three of his five shots from beyond the arc to finish with 11 points, and junior forward Dewayne Dedmon showed off some impressive post moves while tallying 12 points and nine rebounds — arguably his best performance of the season to date.
Over winter break, the Trojans will wrap up their non-conference slate and also play the first four games of their conference schedule.
USC will only play one team that’s currently ranked over the next month, which comes in a matchup this Saturday at the Galen Center against No. 14 Minnesota.
The Trojans will also play home matches against UC-Riverside (Dec. 15), UC-Irvine (Dec. 20), Dayton (Dec. 30), Stanford (Jan. 3) and California (Jan. 15).
They’ll play road contests against Georgia (Dec. 22), Colorado (Jan. 10) and Utah (Jan. 12).