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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Declawed

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The USC Trojans hosted the Arizona Wildcats in a Pacific 10 Conference basketball game Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011, at the Galen Center in Los Angeles, Calif. At the half, Arizona leads 28-25.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The USC Trojans hosted the Arizona Wildcats in a Pacific 10 Conference basketball game Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011, at the Galen Center in Los Angeles, Calif. At the half, Arizona leads 28-25.

LOS ANGELES — Maybe the No. 10 ranking inflated the Arizona Wildcats’ heads. Maybe they just didn’t show up against a hungry and surging Southern California Trojans team.

Whatever the case, USC broke Arizona’s eight-game winning streak in a 65-57 victory at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Thursday, taking advantage of the Wildcats’ 36 percent field goal shooting and sophomore Derrick Williams’ worst scoring night of the season.

USC’s pressuring man defense quieted Williams, and his teammates couldn’t get Arizona over the hump.

“”Folks are always preaching, we’re a team,”” said forward Jesse Perry. “”Tonight, we weren’t really a team. It’s just us period. Not everybody’s on the same level.””

Williams struggled offensively against USC forward Alex Stepheson, shooting 3-for-11 for eight points. On the defensive end, he and UA’s double teams allowed Trojan big man Nikola Vucevic to a final line of 25 points and 12 rebounds.

“”Vucevic, he’s good, (an) NBA prospect,”” Williams said. “”He’s in the running for Player of the Year in our conference.””

Arizona struggled to get its forward touches in the paint, evident by his two free throw attempts — he had taken less in only two games of his career — and the team’s 20 paint points, which paled in comparison to USC’s 36 points inside.

Throughout the game, Arizona was sleepy, if not sloppy. The Wildcats (23-5, 12-3 Pacific 10 Conference) and USC (16-12, 8-7) combined for only 11 turnovers, but that came with only two total assists, a trouble statistic for head coach Sean Miller.

“”It was (Vucevic). It was their defense,”” Miller said. “”It was us.””

Behind seven early points from both guard Kyle Fogg and forward Kevin Parrom, the Wildcats built a lead of 26-19 with 2:45 left in the first half. But climbing back with a short 6-0 burst, the Trojans took advantage of Williams, who missed an alley-oop dunk attempt — his hurt finger got caught in the rim — before UA went into the locker room with a slight 28-25 halftime advantage.

“”I think that changed the game,”” Williams, who led the team with 11 rebounds, said of his missed dunk.

Trading baskets down the stretch, it came down to defense. This time, the Wildcats were on the opposite end of a clutch finish. Up 54-50 with 3:57 to play, Miller’s team saw USC go on a 15-3 run to close out the Wildcats.

Perry led Arizona with 12 points and grabbed six rebounds.

After the loss, forward Parrom said the game at least serves as a wake-up call.

“”We got too happy; we got too bigheaded,”” he said. “”It brings us down to earth.””

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