It was a giant task for Utah to go into Los Angeles and sweep the Southern California schools, but that's exactly what they did as they beat USC Sunday by a score of 80-69. USC had a 16 game home winning streak, and was undefeated on their court this season, up until today.
For Utah, it was the Jakob Poeltl show, as he had 29 points, 13 rebounds and 4 assists. Jakob was unstoppable, and he was as aggressive as I've seen him all season. He wasn't passive, and found ways to get around USC's defense for easy lay ups and hook shots. A couple of possessions we saw him drive to the hold from about the foul line or three point line, something that has to catch the defense off guard. To help Poeltl, Jordan Loveridge had 13 points of his own, and Brandon Taylor had 8 points and 10 assists. USC was led by Jordan McLaughlin's 20 points, as well as 17 a piece for Julian Jacobs and Bennie Boatwright.
Utah continued their offensive efficiency that they had found over the past couple of weeks, by shooting 54% from the field, and only had 11 turnovers. Utah also had 23 assists on 30 made shots, as the ball movement was as crisp as it's been all season. Everyone was willing to make the extra pass, and often times that pass was to the big guy in the center. Utah's offense was very good at times, which allowed the Utes to go on multiple runs through the game. USC shot 46%, and 10-of-17 from deep, which is what kept them in the game. Utah was also +9 in the rebounding category, which allowed them to really control the game.
The great thing with the game tonight, as they stretched the lead in the waning minutes, they didn't let USC fight back into the game, like UCLA did. Utah did a good job finding a good shot at the end of the shot clock, and did a great job rebounding down the stretch not allowing USC multiple looks at the basket.
Utah now sits at 10-5 on the season, and is just a half game behind Oregon and Arizona who both sit at 10-4. Utah's remaining three games are at the Huntsman Center, and one of those games are against Arizona. If Utah takes care of business at home, which is not going to be an easy task (ASU, Arizona and CU), and Oregon drops one more game (WSU, UW, at UCLA, at USC), then Utah could claim the regular season title.
Next up for the Utes, the Sun Devils come to town on Thursday.