SALT LAKE CITY
Drew Peterson felt like he couldn’t miss.
“I don’t think I’ve ever shot it like that. I felt good and my teammates were finding me,” Peterson said.
Peterson scored 23 points and Boogie Ellis added 18 to power No. 16 Southern California past Utah 79-67 on Saturday.
“The ball was moving. Having 18 assists after just six (in a win at Colorado on Thursday) showed a big difference,” Peterson said.
When the Utes finally got to a number with 5:38 left, Max Agbonkpolo dived and Peterson hit a 3-pointer for USC (16-2, 6-2 Pac-12).
Peterson made all five of his 3-point attempts and went 9 for 10 from the field in addition to grabbing seven rebounds.
“Teams have come under my screens a bit recently, knowing that I want to get into the paint. So I try to keep them honest by shooting the open 3s,” Peterson said.
USC’s 16-2 start to the season is the hottest since the 1970-71 team – often considered the best Trojan team ever – started 17-1 en route to a 24-2 record .
“I don’t think this team is as good as Paul Westphal’s. It was one of the greatest teams in USC history. But I like our team. We played hard and played well together,” USC coach Andy Enfield said.
Now at full strength in his injury-riddled first season, Gabe Madsen scored a career-high 20 points for Utah (8-12, 1-9).
“I kinda expected it. I put in a lot of work and I’m proud to be a gym rat. Today opportunity met preparation,” said Madsen, who is recovering from a collapsed lung.
Lazar Stefanovic scored 10 for the Utes, who have lost eight straight.
The Trojans’ height bothered the Utes around the rim and their quickness disrupted Utah’s offense. A 42-31 rebounding disparity helped give the Trojans 15 second-chance points and a 40-20 point advantage in the paint.
“There’s nothing USC doesn’t have. They have great point guarding game, excellent roster athleticism, elite size and versatility. When you make mistakes, they make you pay,” Utah coach Craig Smith said.
USC led by no less than 15 in the first half when Peterson made a 3-pointer to make it 29-14. Madsen’s trio of 3s and a few key commotion plays took the Utes up 35-30 at halftime.
“It wasn’t easy and it’s hard to come to the mountains, but I’m very proud of our team who came together after a tough week last week. We came back with the kind of defense we expect from them,” Enfield said.
Utah’s leading scorer Branden Carlson is nearing a comeback but has sat out and has now missed five games with appendicitis.
USC beat Utah 93-73 on Dec. 1 in Los Angeles.
USC: The Trojan offense wasn’t exactly a smooth-rolling machine, but it was good enough, especially when Peterson warmed up and they got a couple quick and easy break points in the second half. USC’s defense stifled most of the game and held Utah to 36 percent shooting.
Utah: The Utes honored Wat Misaka, a member of Utah’s 1944 NCAA and 1947 NIT title teams, a Japanese American who died in 2019. Playing for the New York Knicks, Misaka was the first non-white player to the Basketball Association of America. , the forerunner of the NBA. Even Utah’s recent glory days seem a long way off when comparing skill against a team like USC, but the Utes are still playing hard amid mounting losses.
CONSEQUENCES OF THE SURVEY
The Trojans ranked fifth before losing conference games to Stanford and Oregon, but a rare sweep from the mountains of Colorado and Utah could give the Trojans a boost to the top 10.
UCLA: Hosts a previously postponed game against Arizona State on Monday night.
Utah: visits Washington State on Wednesday evening.
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