Seeking to start conference play 2-0 for the first time since 2010, the Trojans instead blew a 22-point second half lead and dropped an 87-85 heartbreaker on the road to the Washington Huskies on Sunday afternoon.
Washington scored the final nine points of the game after USC took an 85-78 lead at the 2:12 mark on a layup by Nikola Jovanovic. Back-to-back difficult shots by the Huskies’ Dejounte Murray cut the lead to one, and a turnover led to the go-ahead basket by Andrew Andrews with 25 seconds to play, who scored after grabbing an offensive rebound to give the Huskies an 86-85 advantage.
Katin Reinhardt’s three-point try at the buzzer missed, and the Trojans, who beat Washington State on New Year’s Day, walked off Alaska Airlines Arena splitting their two-game Northwest road trip.
USC led 66-44 with just over 14 minutes remaining in regulation, but fell apart after an early second half injury to Julian Jacobs, who landed awkwardly on his ankle while grabbing a rebound. Jacobs, who had 15 points and a number of electric dunks up prior to his injury, did not return. The Trojans were outscored 45-24 and committed 10 turnovers with him off the court.
The Trojans played with energy right off the bat and jumped out to a double-digit lead midway through the first half behind a 9-0 run. A thunderous dunk by Jacobs with under two minutes to play in the half put USC ahead 44-32. The Trojans took a 46-36 lead into halftime.
Despite starting the second half shooting 7-of-7 from the field, the Trojans could not overcome the injury to Jacobs, the junior guard who is averaging 12 points this season. Jacobs, along with Jordan McLaughlin and Bennie Boatwright, led USC with 15 points. Jovanovic added 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The Trojans, who are now 2-21 in their last 23 road conference games, fall to 12-3 overall and 1-1 in conference play. They will head home to take on Arizona State on Jan. 7 and Arizona on Jan. 9.