USC Holds Off Furious Rally To Defeat Washington State, 60-56

USC's next game is Sunday night, January 9, hosting UCLA.

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USC Vs. Washington State: Trojans Hold On To Beat Cougars, 60-56

Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - Alex Stepheson recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds as the USC Trojans posted a 60-56 win over the Washington State Cougars in a Pac-10 battle at the Galen Center. Nikola Vucevic responded with a double-double of his own for the Trojans (9-6, 1-1 Pac-10) with 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds as the team won for the third time in the last four outings. Donte Smith contributed 14 points, shooting 4-of-8 behind the three-point line, off the bench.

The Cougars (10-4, 0-2) were paced by DeAngelo Casto with 18 points and eight boards, while Klay Thompson logged 17 points and a team-best 10 rebounds, but he shot just 6-of-18 from the floor in the team's third straight setback. WSU took an early lead in the meeting, but it was short-lived due to the squad's mere 30 percent shooting from the floor in the first half. The Trojans knocked down only 3-of-10 behind the three-point line in the period, yet the hosts still played well enough to grab a 26-22 lead at the break.

In the second half Smith connected on all three of his three-point tries for USC in just eight minutes of work, guiding the Trojans to the four-point victory. The difference in the meeting took place at the free-throw line where USC outscored the Cougars, 11-6. USC has eight days off until hosting UCLA next Sunday night.

For more news and notes regarding USC basketball, check out SBN's Conquest Chronicles.

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USC Vs. Washington State: Trojans Look To Avoid 0-2 Start

Following a disappointing 73-67 overtime loss to Washington Wednesday night, the Trojans look to rebound less than 48 hours later against a visiting Washington State team that may be equally dangerous.  

The Cougars feature arguably the Pac-10's best all-around player in Klay Thompson, who averages 22.6 points per game and scored 26 in an 80-71 loss to UCLA earlier this week. 

But most threatening to 'SC's hopes at salvaging a split in the first week of conference play, is Washington State's zone defense. Throughout Kevin O'Neill's tenure in Los Angeles, the Trojans have struggled against the zone, particularly during Wednesday's loss to Washington. Collectively, USC went 5-of-21 from behind the arc and failed to show any signs of productivity offensively. 

"I'm confident our guys are going to make shots," O'Neill told Baxter Holmes of the Los Angeles Times.

If USC is going to "make shots" Friday afternoon, it will need production from junior guard Jio Fontan, who is battling an ankle injury since a Dec. 23 home game against Lehigh.

Against Washington, Fontan looked hampered by the injury and scored just 14 points - his second lowest output of the season. 

For more news and notes regarding USC basketball, check out SBN's Conquest Chronicles

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