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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Turning it over: Cats lose again

    USCs Gabe Pruitt, middle, grabs a rebound in front of Arizonas Ivan Radenovic as his teammate, Taj Gibson, looks on in the second half of the Wildcats 80-73 loss to the Trojans last night.
    USC’s Gabe Pruitt, middle, grabs a rebound in front of Arizona’s Ivan Radenovic as his teammate, Taj Gibson, looks on in the second half of the Wildcats’ 80-73 loss to the Trojans last night.

    LOS ANGELES – Arizona laid its eyes on the Galen Center for the first time last night, yet the game was no different than last year when Arizona laid down at the barren L.A. Sports Arena.

    The No. 11 Wildcats (13-4, 4-3 Pacific 10 Conference) lost on the road to USC (14-5, 5-2) for the second time in a row, and for the fourth time in the last six games, falling 80-73, after suffering a 77-70 loss last season. It was also Arizona’s second consecutive loss, pushing them to sixth in the Pac-10.

    A frustrated Lute Olson said he walked into the locker room and told the team: “”I hate to have to say this, but the team that played the hardest won.””

    After a 22 turnover effort last year, Arizona turned the ball over 12 times in the first half and the Trojans scored 18 points off those turnovers.

    “”We more than gave them the game,”” said Mustafa Shakur, who scored 19 points and turned the ball over three times.

    Nick Young scored 30 points and added eight rebounds for USC, as Lodrick Stewart chipped in with 18 and Gabe Pruitt scored 16. Pruitt and Young combined for 46 points in last year’s game as well.

    “”There are certain guys you can’t let get to the middle of the lane … and one of those guys is Nick Young and he had 30 points,”” Olson said.

    I didn’t make shots, so it’s not a case of where we didn’t get it ahead tonight. I take it all on my shoulders, I just have to play better.
    – Jawann McClellan, junior guard

    Ivan Radenovic helped Arizona climb back after the Wildcats trailed 54-44. His free throw cut the lead to 66-64 after he rebounded his own miss and got fouled in the act of making the lay-up.

    Keith Wilkinson made his only 3-pointer of the game from the corner and Marcus Williams, who re-injured his already sprained left wrist at the end of the first half, was blocked underneath the basket going for a reverse lay-up on the next possession. He then failed to corral a loose ball under his own basket giving USC the ball back.

    To make matters worse, Shakur missed two free throws on the next offensive possession and USC added a layup to lead 71-64.

    Olson was angry about the shot selection of Shakur and Radenovic earlier in the second half, when the two seniors took back-to-back ill-advised shots.

    “”Terrible, terrible choices and they know better than that, but I can’t be out there telling them, ‘OK, here’s the clock,'”” Olson said. “”But those are the two veterans, they’re four-year (guys), so how do you explain that? … Just not thinking,”” he added, pointing to his head.

    Williams scored 19 points for Arizona but turned the ball over six times. He said the left wrist was bothering him because it was taped up.

    Arizona shot poorly from the perimeter for the fourth straight game, making 38.3 percent from the field and 26.7 percent from 3-point range.

    “”I didn’t make shots, so it’s not a case of where we didn’t get it ahead tonight,”” guard Jawann McClellan said of Arizona’s ball movement. “”I take it all on my shoulders, I just have to play better.””

    McClellan shot 1-of-7 from the field and has failed to make a 3-pointer since the game against Washington two weeks ago. Radenovic scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Chase Budinger added 14 points for Arizona.

    As for the Galen Center, an arena Shakur called “”a great atmosphere for college basketball,”” it felt no better than last year’s loss.

    “”I’m kind of at a little loss for words, so I don’t how to critique the game, but at the end of the game they were up, so we lost,”” Williams said.

    Arizona started out hot in the first half, outscoring the Trojans 14-6 to start the game and Budinger had more points than his entire output against Oregon.

    But as the tempo slowed down to a crawl, USC began to control the game. The Trojans equaled the score at 18 on a Gibson dunk and held Arizona to one field goal in the next 6:19.

    Arizona made a mini-run to lead 25-20, but another Gibson dunk started a 13-4 run for USC to end the half, capped by a Young tip-in at the buzzer to give USC a 33-29 halftime lead.

    With the score tied at 41 in the second half, USC went on a 13-3 run to take a 54-44 lead.

    “”There are things that are a mental lack of concentration but the biggest thing is the team that played the hardest won the game and that’s not surprising that’s going to have to happen more often than not,”” Olson said.

    Said Radenovic: “”We just didn’t play 40 minutes and they actually played for 40 minutes and that was the difference in the game.””

    And 1 USC retired the jersey of former NBA player and Phoenix Suns head coach Paul Westphal, who played for the Trojans from 1968-72. Westphal also coached the Seattle Supersonics and Pepperdine as well as Grand Canyon University.

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