LOS ANGELES (ABC4 Sports) – The new year has not gotten off to a great start for the Utes basketball team.
The Utes made just 28 percent of its shots and scored a season low 46 points in a disappointing 64-46 defeat to USC.
Tahj Eaddy scored 18 points as the Trojans pulled away in the second half for the victory.
Utah (4-3, 1-2) was led by Ian Martinez with 10 points, the only Ute in double figures. Leading scores Timmy Allen (5 points) and Alphonso Plummer (7 points) were held to 12 points combined on 5 for 25 shooting.
USC led by 16 points after opening the game on a 22-6 run. The Utes closed to 32-28 at halftime while forcing several of USC’s 14 turnovers in the game.
“I was really impressed with our defensive focus. There was a lot of defense that kept us in the ball game,” Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “Our offense is putting too much pressure on our defense against teams of this caliber.”
Mikael Jantunen scored eight points, while Rylan Jones and Pelle Larsson each had five points.
Utah made just 3 of 22 shots from three-point range. USC made 53.6 percent of its shots from the field.
Utah trailed by four when the Trojans put the game out of reach with an 11-1 run. Eaddy scored on a goaltending call, hit a 3-pointer and made another basket for seven points to extend USC’s lead to 55-41.
Peterson’s 3-pointer capped a 9-2 spurt that ended the game for USC. The Utes were 4 of 32 from the floor in the second half.
The Trojans (6-2, 1-1 Pac-12) earned their first league win of the season after losing to Colorado and having two other Pac-12 games postponed because of COVID-19.
“This is a big steppingstone in the right direction,” said USC’s Chevez Goodwin, who had 11 points despite four fouls.
Drew Peterson added 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Trojans. Isaiah White scored 12 points before fouling out.
USC 7-foot freshman standout Evan Mobley was held to three points and five rebounds, the first time in eight games that he failed to score in double figures and grab at least seven rebounds. He did not attempt a field goal while playing 30 minutes.
“He could have forced some shots up but he made the right decisions. They were double-teaming him on the catch. He was passing the ball out of the double team,” USC coach Andy Enfield said of Mobley. “He was out on the perimeter guarding guards, which was new to him. He played a terrific game despite not scoring a lot.”
It was a lost weekend in Los Angeles for the Utes, who dropped a two-point decision at UCLA on Friday. They’re working out issues typical of a team featuring 11 freshmen or sophomores.
“It hasn’t been easy for our guys and it’s what we talked about on our second time out,” Krystkowiak said. “Nobody is going to feel sorry for us, we have to go out and make our own breaks.”
Utah next opens a 4-game homestand Wednesday night against Oregon State. Tip-off at the Huntsman Center is scheduled for 9:00 p.m.