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USC men’s basketball falls to No. 13 Arizona

By in Press Enterprise on February 11, 2018

By Thuc Nhi Nguyen

TUCSON, Ariz. — Arizona fans rained boos into the court at McKale Center. A late free throw from Chimezie Metu would only be delaying the inevitable.

USC’s February tailspin continued with an 81-67 loss to No. 13 Arizona on Saturday. The Trojans’ six-game winning streak has morphed into a three-game skid that has likely ended any chances at their first regular-season conference title since 1985.

Instead of rising into a tie for first place in the Pac-12, the Trojans (17-9, 8-5 Pac-12) stayed locked in tie for second, two games out of the top spot with five regular-season games left.

“This one we just didn’t keep fighting,” senior guard Jordan McLaughlin said. “That’s all we gotta do, keep fighting all the way until the end and even if we’re not making shots, we gotta keep fighting.”

McLaughlin, a top-10 finalist for the Bob Cousy Award, took only one shot while picking up two fouls with no assists in the first half.

The Pac-12’s assist leader didn’t notch his first assist until the 18:47 mark of the second half. The basket from Nick Rakocevic sparked a game-tying 10-0 run for the Trojans that included back-to-back 3-pointers from McLaughlin, his first points of the game.

The Etiwanda alum finished with 16 points and five assists to spark the USC offense, but couldn’t stop the Wildcats. Arizona (20-6, 10-3 Pac-12) shot 56.1 percent for the game, the highest opponent shooting percentage against the Trojans since Washington shot 67.3 percent on Dec. 29.

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