What went right: CU outrebounded USC 39-31.
What went wrong: Turnovers, and lots of them. CU finished with 22 turnovers, which led to 25 points for USC.
Star of the game: George King. The senior led CU with 21 points and nine rebounds.
What's next: The Buffs will take another shot at their first win in a true road game Saturday at UCLA (8:30 p.m. MST, Pac-12 Network).
LOS ANGELES — The turnover total arrived in every form imaginable, and from just about every player in the rotation of the Colorado men's basketball team.
And, in the end, the numbers behind those giveaways were far too burdensome to overcome.
Despite a solid night shooting the ball, particularly in the first half, and a dominant effort on the glass, the Buffaloes were unable to overcome their own mistakes Wednesday night, dropping a 70-58 decision against USC in a Pac-12 Conference battle at the Galen Center.
CU fell to 0-5 in true road games while committing 22 turnovers. Those giveaways led to a whopping 25 points for the Trojans.
“There is a very simple reason why we lost this game tonight,” CU coach Tad Boyle said. “You look at the stat sheet and it's very simple. We had 22 turnovers. And we had 10 shots that were blocked. Which means that's 32 times we didn't even get the ball to the rim. It doesn't give us an opportunity to make a shot. It doesn't give us a chance at an offensive rebound. It doesn't get us to the foul line. It was a really disappointing effort.
“When you've got 10 blocked shots and 22 turnovers, there's some bad decisions, some bad passing, some bad dribbling. Really, really bad offense out there.”
The turnovers came in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Twice in the first half the Buffs suffered shot-clock violations coming out of timeouts. Dom Collier was caught in the backcourt for a 10-second violation. And point guard McKinley Wright was called for a double-dribble in the backcourt.
McKinley Wright and Namon Wright were the biggest culprits individually with five turnovers apiece. But everyone in the rotation except sophomore Deleon Brown, who played just 12 minutes, and D'Shawn Schwartz (six minutes) was charged with at least one turnover.
It was the third time this year the Buffs have reached 20 turnovers, with Wednesday's futility ranking only behind the season-most 23 CU recorded against New Mexico on Dec. 6. In 10 games beginning with that New Mexico contest, the Buffs have averaged 16.6 turnovers per game — and that includes last week's upset of then-No. 14 Arizona in which CU committed just two turnovers in the first half but still finished with 15.
“We've got to take care of the ball. It's hard to win on the road if you don't take care of the ball,” CU senior George King said. “We have to be tougher defensively and rebounding. I think when we did get stops I don't think we did a good enough job of turning that into points and running.”
Even with the turnover issues the Buffs held a one-point lead late in the first half before USC closed the frame with five consecutive points to take a 38-34 lead into the break.
The Buffs battled to within one point at the outset of the second half on a 3-pointer from King and two free throws from Namon Wright, but the Trojans surged ahead from there. A 9-2 USC run pushed the Trojans' lead to eight points, and the Buffs' 20th turnover of the game led to a driving layup from USC's Jordan McLaughlin that gave the hosts a 12-point edge with under seven minutes remaining.
The Buffs shot a solid .448 in the first half but went just 7-for-26 after halftime. CU outrebounded the Trojans 38-31.
King paced the Buffs with 21 points and nine rebounds. Namon Wright was the only other CU player in double-figures with 10 points. McLaughlin led USC's 9-for-17 showing on 3-pointers by going 4-for-4 and finishing with a team-leading 20 points, while junior forward Chimezie Metu posted the 13th double-double of his career with 14 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Metu also led the Trojans' block party with a career-high six blocked shots.
“On the board before we took the floor was, ‘Be in attack mode. Be in control. And get a great shot.' That's offensively what we wanted to do,” Boyle said. “I thought in the first half we did some good things against (USC's zone). In the second half we had a couple of decent possessions but just way, way, way too many empty ones. And the turnovers that lead to layups and the turnovers that lead to threes are huge. Those are the ones we've got to get rid of.”
SOUTHERN CAL 70, COLORADO 58
Walton 1-4 0-1 2, N.Wright 3-9 2-3 10, King 7-14 2-2 21, M.Wright 2-9 2-2 7, Bey 4-6 0-1 8, Siewert 0-1 0-0 0, Collier 0-2 0-0 0, Brown 1-4 0-0 3, Nikolic 1-4 2-2 4, Schwartz 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 20-55 8-11 58.
SOUTHERN CAL (12-6)
Metu 3-13 8-8 14, Boatwright 1-9 0-0 3, Stewart 1-3 1-2 3, Aaron 2-3 0-0 4, McLaughlin 6-8 4-6 20, Rakocevic 2-4 0-0 4, Thornton 4-6 0-0 8, Mathews 3-7 0-4 9, Usher 2-2 0-1 5. Totals 24-55 13-21 70.
Halftime — Southern Cal 38-34. 3-point goals — Colorado 10-23 (King 5-11, N.Wright 2-4, Schwartz 1-1, M.Wright 1-1, Brown 1-3, Siewert 0-1, Collier 0-2), Southern Cal 9-17 (McLaughlin 4-4, Mathews 3-6, Usher 1-1, Boatwright 1-4, Metu 0-1, Aaron 0-1). Fouled out — Bey. Rebounds — Colorado 33 (King 9), Southern Cal 31 (Metu 13). Assists — Colorado 13 (M.Wright 4), Southern Cal 10 (McLaughlin 3). Total fouls - Colorado 20, Southern Cal 18.