What went right: The Buffs dominated the glass, outrebounding the Trojans 37-21
What went wrong: Turnovers. It was the same old story for CU, which committed 20 turnovers that led to 22 USC points.
Star of the game: Josh Scott. After missing two and a half games due to a sprained ankle, the senior forward came off the bench to make 6-of-8 points and score a team-leading 17 points. Scott also recorded three rebounds, a steal, and zero turnovers in 23 minutes.
What's next?: The Buffs complete their Los Angeles swing at UCLA on Saturday, 9 p.m. MST.
LOS ANGELES — Despite an impressive start that should have led to the Colorado Buffaloes' best road win of the season, it turned out to be the same old story.
And it's quickly turning into a sorry tale for CU.
The Buffaloes watched a 15-point second-half lead evaporate in a flurry of turnovers and poor defense down the stretch, allowing USC to rally in stunningly fast fashion for a 79-72 victory Wednesday night in a key Pac-12 Conference showdown at the Galen Center.
CU fell to 19-8 overall and 8-6 in the league heading into Saturday's contest at UCLA. The Buffs committed 20 turnovers — the third time in four games CU has reached the 20-turnover mark — and the Trojans gladly took advantage by turning the giveaways into 22 points.
The Buffaloes were spurred early by the return of senior leader Josh Scott from a two and a half game absence due to a sprained ankle, but it wasn't nearly enough to hold off a USC team that ended the game on a dominant 31-10 run.
“It's the same guys. It's no secret who's turning the ball over,” Scott said. “People have to figure it out, because it's costing us games. Frankly I'm very frustrated with it. Kind of sitting out (the past week) we've turned the ball over a lot at practice. Everyone thinks it's OK, but it comes back and bites you in games. How you practice is how you play. People need to figure that out, and quickly.”
The Buffs led 62-48 after a drive by Wesley Gordon with 8 minutes, 19 seconds remaining. But that would be the Buffs' last field goal for more than eight minutes, while USC began their backbreaking 31-10 run with a 14-2 burst. The Buffs didn't record another field goal until a late, meaningless 3-pointer from senior guard Xavier Talton that only added window dressing to the Buffs' dreadful finish.
“We've tried everything. Obviously I don't have an answer or we wouldn't continue to do it,” head coach Tad Boyle said. “We played good enough tonight to win this game, but we only played for 33 minutes. It's a 40-minute game.”
Opting to bring his leading scorer and rebounder off the bench, Boyle inserted Scott at the 15 minute, 23 second mark of the first half, and the Buffs immediately responded. CU trailed 8-7 at that point and fell behind 12-7 before surging ahead behind a 9-0 run, with two of those baskets coming from Scott.
USC trimmed the Colorado lead to 20-19 when the Buffs reeled off an 11-3 burst, getting eight points from George King during the run, including a pair of 3-pointers. A nifty floater from Talton in the waning moments of the first half gave CU a 37-29 advantage at the break.
Overall, the Buffs outscored USC 30-21 from the moment Scott entered through the remainder of the first half. CU scored seven consecutive points during a 10-2 run in the second half that gave the Buffs a 15-point lead with about nine minutes to play.
But that's when wheels fell off down the stretch. After scoring just four points off CU turnovers in the first half, USC scored 18 points off Buffs turnovers in the second half, many of those occurring in the backbreaking late run.
Scott's 6-of-8 effort from the floor led to a team-best 17 points on a night that saw four players score in double figures, but the offensive prowess and rebound dominance — CU outrebounded the Trojans 37-21 — were far overshadowed by the turnovers.
King made 3-of-4 3-pointers to finish with 13 points and a team-leading nine rebounds, but he and fellow backcourt starters Dom Collier and Talton combined for 15 turnovers and no assists.
Gordon's run of three consecutive double-doubles ended, though he still finished with 13 points, seven rebounds, and two blocked shots.
“We turned the ball over, and they capitalized on the turnovers,” King said. “I need to do a better job and not turn the ball over late. I don't know at this point. I'm upset with myself. Valuing the ball has to mean more to myself and the team. Twenty turnovers on the road is not going to cut it.”
SOUTHERN CAL 79, COLORADO 72
COLORADO (19-8, 8-6)
Gordon 4-7 5-8 13, Miller 1-2 0-0 2, Talton 3-5 0-0 7, Collier 0-3 0-0 0, King 4-7 2-2 13, Akyazili 1-6 0-0 2, Fletcher 3-5 0-0 8, Scott 6-8 5-6 17, Fortune 3-11 3-4 10. Totals 25-54 15-20 72.
SOUTHERN CAL (19-7, 8-5)
Boatwright 1-5 4-6 7, Jovanovic 2-7 4-6 8, Reinhardt 1-6 1-2 3, McLaughlin 8-14 7-9 25, Jacobs 6-8 5-6 17, Martin 1-1 2-2 4, Metu 2-3 2-2 6, Gavrilovic 0-0 0-0 0, Marquetti 0-0 0-0 0, Stewart 3-6 2-2 9. Totals 24-50 27-35 79.
Halftime - Colorado 37-29. 3-point goals - Colorado 7-18 (King 3-4, Fletcher 2-3, Talton 1-2, Fortune 1-3, Gordon 0-1, Collier 0-2, Akyazili 0-3), Southern Cal 4-14 (McLaughlin 2-4, Stewart 1-2, Boatwright 1-3, Jovanovic 0-1, Reinhardt 0-4). Fouled out - Stewart. Rebounds - Colorado 37 (King 9), Southern Cal 21 (Jovanovic 6). Assists - Colorado 9 (Akyazili 4), Southern Cal 9 (McLaughlin 5). Total fouls_Colorado 24, Southern Cal 21. A_5,132.