LOS ANGELES — The turning point for USC on Saturday was quick and decisive, lasting about 30 seconds and impactful enough to make a difference for the rest of the evening.
Daniel Utomi scored a season-high 23 points and USC’s 70-51 victory over Washington State looked like a game lan well executed. It just took a little reminder from Trojans coach Andy Enfield.
When Washington State jumped out to an 8-0 lead 1:27 into the game, aided by a pair of three-pointers, Enfield gathered his team for a little chat.
“He was a little animated,” USC’s Isaiah Mobley said. “Honestly, he told us right before we went out (for the game), ‘I don’t want them to have a 10-point lead right away and have to call time out.’ Luckily it was eight.”
Mobley could joke about it afterward. Enfield wasn’t smiling in the team huddle during his early timeout.
“They weren’t going to beat us inside, and the only way they could beat us was from the three-point line. Here we give up two threes to (CJ) Elleby and (Jervae) Robinson and all they do is shoot threes. So that was the message: ‘If you want to win this game, you have to get a little more intense than what you’re playing right now.’”
After going 2 of 2 from distance to open the game, the Cougars went 2 of 26 from the three-point line the rest of the way. The Cougars missed 21 consecutive three-pointers until Tony Miller made one with 39 seconds left.
“They’re long (on defense), and they did a good job,” WSU coach Kyle Smith said. “It bothered us, and it felt that way. But I felt that we took some quick (shots). We made some early, but we have to take some better ones.”
Ethan Anderson scored 12 points while Mobley had nine points and 11 rebounds as the Trojans (19-7, 8-5 Pac-12) earned a home sweep of the Washington schools after a victory over Washington on Thursday.
Elleby scored 22 points with 13 rebounds — 10th career double-double — for the Cougars (14-12, 5-8), who’ve lost three of their past four.
“He has a big heart and he wants to do well out there,” Smith said of Elleby. “He was pressing a little bit but he gave us a chance.”
Elleby, just a sophomore, is now 42 points shy of 1,000 for his WSU career.