The USC Trojans ended their regular season on a high note, defeating the Washington Huskies 62-60 in Seattle. The Trojans were able to dominate the middle, as they got a pair of double-doubles from their two starting forwards. Nikola Vucevic had 19 points and 10 rebounds, his conference-leading 20th double-double on the season and eighth in a row. Alex Stepheson had 11 points and 14 rebounds as well in the win. Jio Fontan scored 20 points in the win, including 10-for-12 on free throws, and was instrumental in combating the Huskies' defensive pressure in the second half.
USC took a 36-26 lead into halftime, and built the lead to as many as 45-31 early in the second half. Washington deployed a full court press that really bothered the Trojans, and Washington cut the lead to as few as two points. However, the Trojans defense kept the Huskies at bay, as Washington went over eight minutes without a field goal, and the side effect of Washington's defensive pressure was a series of long offensive possessions by the Trojans that seemingly had a football-like effect of simply running time off the clock.
USC held Washington to just 39.6% shooting, and USC outrebounded the Huskies 38-28. Isaiah Thomas scored 16 points to lead Washington. The Trojans, who clinched the fourth seed with tonight's win, will face Cal in the Pac-10 Tournament quarterfinals at noon on Thursday at Staples Center.
The USC Trojans look to end their regular season with a win over the Washington Huskies, in hopes of securing the fourth seed of next week's Pac-10 Tournament. The Trojans also need a win today to have a winning record in Pac-10 play for the first time since 2007-2008. However, several wins were vacated due to the O.J. Mayo recruiting violations, so technically it would be the first time since 2006-2007 that USC had a winning record in conference play.
Nikola Vucevic is enjoying a fine season for the Trojans. The junior forward from Montenegro is averaging 17.6 points and 10.3 rebounds this season, and has averaged 19.5 points and 10.8 boards in conference play. Vucevic has a conference-leading 19 double-doubles this season, including one in each of his last seven games. He had a career-high 28 points, and 14 rebounds, against Washington on December 29.
USC has won five of its last seven games. Tonight's 7:30 p.m. PST game will be televised by Fox Sports West. Rocky IV alumnus Barry Tompkins will call the play-by-play, with White Men Can't Jump co-star Marques Johnson providing analysis. Rebecca Haarlow is the sideline reporter.