January 5, 2018 / 5:58 AM / in 6 months

Early spurts send USC past Cal

USC outscored California 28-0 during three first-half runs Thursday night, building a big lead that the Trojans rode to an 80-62 romp over the Golden Bears in Pacific-12 Conference play in Berkeley, Calif.

Nick Rakocevic had 19 points, Bennie Boatwright 15 and Jordan Usher 14 for USC (11-5, 2-1 Pac-12). The Trojans won despite having to play the first half without one of their top players, Chimezie Metu, who was suspended.

The Trojans turned to a suffocating defense to put the game away before their junior big man, who was penalized for a flagrant foul in a Saturday win over Washington State, was allowed to join the action for the final 20 minutes.

Cal, coming off a conference-opening win at Stanford, trailed just 10-8 six minutes into the game before USC pulled away.

It began with an 11-0 Trojans run during which the Bears (7-8, 1-1) missed eight consecutive shots and committed five turnovers over a stretch of almost five minutes.

After Juhwan Harris-Dyson ended that Cal drought and cut the deficit to 21-10, the Trojans ran off another eight straight points, during which the Bears committed six turnovers in 5 1/2 minutes.

USC then responded to a Kingsley Okoroh jumper with its best offensive flurry of the half, getting a 3-pointer from Usher, a dunk from Shaqquan Aaron and consecutive interior hoops from Elijah Stewart in a 9-0 burst over a span of just 1:19 to completely break the game open at 38-12.

The Trojans led 41-20 at the half. With Metu contributing six points after the break, USC was never seriously threatened in the second half en route to just its second true road win of the season.

Rakocevic hit eight of his 11 shots and Usher six of his seven for the Trojans, who shot 46.2 from the field.

Justice Sueing led Cal with 15 points, while Marcus Lee and Harris-Dyson added 10 apiece.

Cal finished the game with 22 turnovers against a USC defense that forced an average of just 12.8 in its first 15 games.

—Field Level Media

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