USC Loses Sixth Straight After 12-Point Half

Chass Bryan and Malik Martin provided a spark in the second half, but it came after the Trojans scored just 12 points in the first half.

The USC men’s basketball team has been bad at times since it was hit with sanctions that led to the dismissal of head coach Tim Floyd. But Sunday’s first half against Utah may have been a new low.

The Trojans (9-12, 1-8) managed just 12 points on 5-of-26 shooting and turned the ball over 10 times en route to a 67-39 loss to the No. 11 Utes (17-4, 7-2) at the Galen Center.

Head coach Andy Enfield called it the "worst half of basketball the entire season."

"it was very surprising how we came out in the first half. We had trouble scoring the ball."

In the first half, Enfield’s highly touted freshman recruiting class was a combined 0-for-9 with point guard Jordan McLaughlin missing all four of his shots and turning the ball over three times. As a team, USC managed just one assist and trailed 32-12 after the first 20 minutes.

Here’s the Trojans’ shot chart from the first half:

The second half wasn’t much better as Utah scored 11 of the first 13 points to build a 29-point lead before the Trojans finally showed some life. Enfield benched all of his starters and went with junior walk-on Chass Bryan at the point.

Bryan, who played a season-high 14 minutes after only playing twice in the first eight conference games, brought energy and defensive intensity. He also scored his first three points of the season.

"Chass always gives great energy," Enfield said. "He comes everyday in practice and plays like that -- plays hard."

With the freshman trio of Malik Martin, Malik Marquetti and Elijah Stewart providing effort, USC went on a 13-1 run.

Martin knocked down a 3-pointer at the top of the key and two midrange jumpers before later driving to the rim for a finger roll layup. He finished with 11 points — three shy of the career high he set against the Utes in the first matchup.

"Malik has that capability," Enfield said, noting Martin's shooting touch, athleticism and length. "He’s been up and down like most of our players, but i think he showed some flashes today of his potential."

USC's run was short lived as Utah answered with a 12-2 run to push the lead back to 56-29. Three Utes finished in double figures with Jakob Poeltl leading the way with 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Delon Wright had 11 points and Jordan Loveridge finished with 10 points. Martin was the only Trojan to get to double digits.

For the game, USC shot just 26.5 percent (13-for-49) -- the lowest shooting percentage for the Trojans since shooting 25.9 percent against California in 1998. USC's 12 first-half points almost equaled a much older "feat." USC's record for fewest points in a half (since 1953 when record were first available) was 10 against Oregon State in 1982.

"Our guys really defended today," Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "We have the term 'kill' in our program, which is when you get five stops in a row. Today, we had a bunch of them. When you are able to keep a team under 40 points, that says a lot about your defense."

USC's two leading scorers struggled the most. Nikola Jovanovic scored just three points to snap his 15-game double-figure streak. McLaughlin finished the game 0-for-7 with no points, no assists and three turnovers.

"Unfortunately, he's had a tough time putting some shots in," Enfield said of McLaughlin. "We're not down on him at all. He's going to be a special playerin this league. He's just going through a little slump right now."

USC heads on the road next week, traveling to the Bay Area. The Trojans will face California at 8 p.m. PST. The game will be televised on FOX Sports 1. Utah plays at Colorado on Saturday at 8 p.m. MST.

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