What went right: CU had great energy to start the game and that kept the Buffs in it for a while.
What went wrong: The Buffs were mentally and physically defeated in the second half. They couldn't hit shots, turned the ball over and made poor decisions in helping USC take control with a stunning 37-5 run over a stretch of 11 minutes.
Star of the game: Brecca Thomas. The senior came off the bench for 12 points and two steals in 19 minutes.
What's next: CU will host No. 14 UCLA on Sunday at 4 p.m.
Midway through the third quarter on Friday night, Southern California's Jordan Adams stepped in front of a Colorado pass and sprinted down the court for an easy layup.
CU head coach JR Payne called a timeout to try to stop the bleeding, but from that point on, whatever fight the Buffs had in them disappeared.
Visiting USC blasted the Buffs 86-51 at Coors Events Center, handing them their most lopsided defeat since a 36-point loss at Oklahoma State on Jan. 14, 2009.
"I'm always one to try to find positives," Payne said. "I don't pull a lot yet from this game other than in spurts we executed our game plan."
Those spurts mainly came in the first half for the Buffs (11-5, 2-3 Pac-12), but after intermission, it was no contest.
Adams' layup gave the Trojans (12-4, 2-3) a 12-point lead, and coming out of the timeout, the Trojans quickly extended it to 21.
Then, during a stretch of 5 minutes, 8 seconds from the late third to the early fourth quarter, USC went on a 21-0 run to go up by 41 points.
This was a rare night when the Buffs, even in defeat, didn't go down swinging.
"It's just a mentality you have to have," said senior Brecca Thomas, who led the Buffs with 12 points off the bench. "You get punched, you have to punch back. That's just a mentality you have to have, in any sport. You can't just give up. You can't just roll over."
Early on, the Buffs didn't. Although they got down by 11 early, their energy was high and they rallied. Two minutes into the third quarter, they were down by just five.
USC then started to hit shots and dominated mentally, too, changing the game by outscoring the Buffs 37-5 over an 11-minute span.
"They are an aggressive team physically and they let you know with their mouths, as well," Thomas said. "As a team, we need to be tough mentally and realize that fueled them and that got them going when they kind of got into players' heads on our team. We just have to do better coming out and punching back.
"When you look at the scoreboard and you see you're down, it's going to mess with you a little bit. But, that's the mindset you have to have. You have to keep pushing and keep going."
USC guard Aliyah Mazyck never let up, pouring in a career-high 29 points, including 6-for-9 from 3-point range. Guard Minyon Moore added 15 points, eight assists and seven steals.
Just about everybody for the Buffs had a rough night.
While Thomas and freshman Mya Hollingshed (10 points) had solid games off the bench, CU's starters combined for just 20 points on 6-for-34 (17.6 percent) shooting. Leading scorer Kennedy Leonard had a career-low two points.
It was hardly the effort CU hoped for coming off a nice road win at Washington on Sunday.
"A game like tonight can't happen," Thomas said.
The 35-point margin of defeat was CU's largest in a home game since a 46-point loss to Texas Tech on Jan. 15, 2005. ... The Buffs fell to 6-10 all-time against the Trojans. ... CU finished with 21 turnovers, its seventh 20-turnover game of the season. The Buffs had at least 20 turnovers just twice in 33 games last season.
Southern California 86, Colorado 51
At Coors Events Center
USC (12-4, 2-3 Pac-12)
Simon 6-12 2-4 14, Adams 4-7 2-2 13, Moore 5-11 5-11 15, Mazyck 9-14 5-6 29, Abejon 1-5 1-2 4, Tapley 3-8 0-0 7, Effa 0-0 0-0 0, Milisic 2-2 0-0 4. Totals 30-59 15-25 86..
COLORADO (11-5, 2-3)
Bunn 0-6 1-2 1, Jank 0-5 3-4 3, Caylao-Do 2-4 1-2 6, Robinson 3-9 2-2 8, Leonard 1-10 0-0 2, Carter 2-5 1-2 6, Thomas 4-9 2-2 12, Hollingshed 3-4 2-2 10, Diop 0-1 0-0 0, Knigth 0-0 1-2 1, Castro 1-1 0-2 2, Curtis 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-54 13-20 51..
Score by quarters:USC 19 17 27 23 — 81
Colorado 13 16 11 11 — 51
3-point goals — USC 11-24 (Mazyck 6-9, Adams 3-4, Tapley 1-5, Abejon 1-4, Simon 0-1, Moore 0-1), Colorado 6-22 (Thomas 2-4, Hollingshed 2-2, Carter 1-3, Caylao-Do 1-2, Leonard 0-5, Robinson 0-4, Bunn 0-1, Diop 0-1). Rebounds — USC 40 (Simon 11), Colorado 34 (Jank, Caylao-Do 5). Assists — USC 16 (Moore 8), Colorado 7 (Leonard 3). Steals — USC 14 (Moore 7), Colorado 9 (Bunn 3). Turnovers — USC 11, Colorado 21. Total fouls — USC 19, Colorado 21. Fouled out — Bunn. A — 1,533.