Southern California can score its 12th consecutive home win and fourth straight victory overall when it welcomes Pac-12 Conference counterpart Washington to Los Angeles on Saturday.
The Trojans (16-6, 8-3 Pac-12) outscored Washington State 17-5 over the final 4:15 of an 80-70 win on Thursday. The win kept USC within a game of rival UCLA for first-place in the conference and maintained the Trojans’ perfect mark at the Galen Center since dropping a 74-61 decision to Florida Gulf Coast in the season opener.
Boogie Ellis, who scored a team-high 23 points, credited a video he watched recently featuring former NBA All-Star Gilbert Arenas for sparking Ellis’ offensive play.
“He said, ‘If you start the game 0-for-5, and then in the second half, you go to 5-for-5 (and) it’s still a great game. If in the first half you start 5-for-5 and you finish 0-for-5 it is still a great game,'” Ellis said in the postgame press conference. “I have extreme confidence, even when I’m missing shots.”
Ellis’ point-per-game average is up to 16.6 after outings of 18 points at Arizona State on Jan. 21, a career-high 31 points in the Jan. 26 win over UCLA and Thursday’s 23-point effort.
Ellis had a similar offensive showing when USC last met Washington, scoring 27 points in an 80-67 Trojans win in Seattle on Dec. 30.
The Huskies (13-11, 5-8) were amid a five-game losing skid when they last saw USC, but bounced back to win four of their next five. Washington comes into the Galen Center riding another skid with back-to-back losses to two top-10 teams, Arizona last Saturday and at UCLA on Thursday.
The Bruins outscored the Huskies 26-8 early in the contest, building enough of an early cushion that Washington’s second-half rally effort only cut the deficit to six points at its fewest before falling 70-61.
“We won the second half, but we have to compete like that for 40 minutes,” Huskies coach Mike Hopkins said in his postgame press conference. “We really shared the ball. I’m really proud of how we fought.”
Keion Brooks Jr., who scored a game-high 23 points at UCLA, comes in averaging 18.1 points per game.
–Field Level Media