By Jordan Moore on January 28, 2012 8:22 PM
Written by Dave Dulberg, USC blog contributor
With a 62-45 blowout victory over new conference foe Utah on Saturday night, the Trojans snapped a nine-game skid spanning 40 days. The win was also the team's first in Pac-12 play this season and first of 2012.
USC started fast against the Utes, building a 16-4 lead over the first 10 minutes of play thanks to stingy team defense (gave up just two FGs and forced seven turnovers) and the backcourt duo of Maurice Jones (scored two transition layups to go along with two assists) and Greg Allen (made two deep corner three-point shots off the bench). To conclude the first half, freshman Byron Wesley banked home a shot from beyond the three-point arc at the buzzer to give the Trojans an 18-point advantage, which at the time, was their largest lead during Pac-12 play this season. From there, the Trojans never looked back, leading by double-digits the entire second half. "I'm really happy for my guys," Kevin O'Neill said. "I'm glad this streak is over. I have been through many losing streaks in my life, and they are hard to deal with. And, they are especially hard for young people to deal with."
Due to the season-ending MCL tear center Dewayne Dedmon sustained during Thursday night's 74-50 loss to Colorado, junior transfer James Blasczyk was forced into Kevin O'Neill's starting lineup for the first time in his Trojan career on Saturday. While Blasczyk didn't fill up the box score on offense, he held James Washburn, Utah's leading scorer (10.5 points per game) and rebounder (6.3 rebounds per game) in check all night. Washburn finished with an ineffective 10 points, four of which came when the game was already well in hand. "I think he is going to be a really good player," O'Neill said of Blasczyk. "Unfortunately the guy never gets to practice. He's a guy who can do some things, he's agile and he plays hard. He's going to be down the line, once he gets healthy and is able to practice all the time, a really good player."
In only his fourth start of the season, sophomore Garrett Jackson had arguably his best game at USC. From the opening tip to the final buzzer, the native of Portland, OR was active at both ends of the court. Jackson finished the night with a career-high 16 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field.
Here's Jackson after the game talking about his career night, the end of a nine-game losing streak and the importance of simplifying things at the offensive end.