USC falls in familiar fashion

Large contingent of Holiday Bowl-bound Washington fans leave happy after Huskies down Trojans, 73-67, in overtime at Galen Center.

In the end, it really was "Just Like Football."

That's what the sizable contingent of Washington fans, headed to the Holiday Bowl in San Diego, was chanting after USC dropped its Pac-10 opener in overtime, 73-67, Wednesday night despite a double-double by forward Nikola Vucevic.

And just as the Trojans said after their 16-13 loss to Steve Sarkisian in 2009, the Huskies knew what was coming.

"They knew most of our plays for me and (Alex Stepheson)," Vucevic said. "When we were calling them, they knew them already so they were just getting in front of me and not let us run the play."

Despite facing a defense built around stopping him, the 6-foot-10 junior still had 28 points and 14 rebounds. Vucevic was 6 of 9 from the field and a perfect 14 for 14 from the free throw line, making a pair to tie the game at 55 with 1:15 left in regulation.

However, there was little help for Vucevic as the other six Trojans (8-6, 0-1 Pac-10) struggled to make anything.

"It's big britches time," USC coach Kevin O'Neill said. "When you're playing good teams, you got to step up and do the things that you're capable of."

Vucevic's teammates were a dreadful 13 of 46 from the field, contributing to a 34.5 percent shooting night that derailed an impressive defensive showing.

Washington (9-3, 1-0 Pac-10) came into Los Angeles scoring 90.5 points per game, but hardly sniffed that average. Freshman guard Terrence Ross scored a team-high 18 points, knocking down back-to-back wide-open threes to rally the Huskies back from an early 16-4 hole.

Defensive specialist Marcus Simmons held point guard Isaiah Thomas to 10 points, while the junior had just three assists against six turnovers.

But it was at the end that the Trojans gave the game away, mostly through empty offensive possessions, making just one field goal in the final 12:31 of the second half.

"We had our chances," O'Neill said. "We're going down the stretch and drop a ball that's a dunk and step on the baseline in a game that ends up in overtime.

"If you're playing a top 20 caliber team like Washington is, you're not going to win if you don't do the little things down the stretch."

Guard Jio Fontan scored 14 points, but needed 14 shots to do so. Stepheson added 8 points and 8 rebounds.

There's little time for a turnaround as USC hosts Washington State (10-3, 0-1 Pac-10) in a New Year's Eve matinee on Friday at 3 p.m.


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