Jonah Mathews scored 14 points and Onyeka Okongwu had a double-double as host Southern California held off short-handed Arizona 57-48 on Thursday night in Los Angeles.
Mathews’ only 3-pointer came with 3:24 left for a 50-44 lead, and he hit two free throws at the 2-minute mark to re-establish a six-point edge as USC (20-9, 9-7 Pac-12) improved its positioning in its bid for an NCAA Tournament berth.
Okongwu had 11 points and 10 rebounds and provided the highlight of the night, banking in a three-quarter-court heave at the end of the first half.
Arizona (19-9, 9-6) lost its second consecutive game and almost had as many turnovers (15) as made field goals (16). Zeke Nnaji led the Wildcats with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Nico Mannion chipped in 11 points but shot 3 of 14 from the field.
Arizona played without freshman wing Josh Green, the team’s third-leading scorer at 11.9 points per game. He also will miss the game at UCLA on Saturday night because of a lower-back injury, the school announced.
The Wildcats were also missing backup guard Max Hazzard, who did not play because of personal reasons, according to the school. That left Arizona with three scholarship guards/wings available. Ira Lee made his first start of the season at power forward, with Stone Gettings sliding down to small forward.
Arizona shot 3 of 26 (11.5 percent) from 3-point range and 28.1 percent overall.
The Wildcats were within 27-25 early in the second half, but USC steadily padded its advantage and went up 41-32 on Daniel Utomi’s 3-pointer with 11:55 to go.
USC failed to deliver a knockout punch, though, and the Wildcats climbed within 47-44 on Getting’s short jumper with 3:35 left. Mathews answered with his 3-pointer, and his free throws about a minute later kicked off a 7-0 run to ice the game.
USC surged late in a sloppy first half, when the teams combined for 19 field goals and 18 turnovers. The Trojans scored the final eight points, including the 3-point heave from Okongwu, who spun to the ground after releasing the shot as he was undercut by Arizona’s Dylan Smith, although no foul was called. USC led 26-21 at the break.
—Field Level Media