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Poor starts have been a big part of USC's four-game losing streak

Poor starts have been a big part of USC's four-game losing streak
USC guard Jordan Usher, center, loses his balances while driving against Nevada guard Corey Henson, left, forward Cody Martin, center, and guard Jazz Johnson during the first half on Dec. 1, 2018. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

When Nevada defeated the USC men’s basketball team Dec. 1, there was reason for the Trojans to remain optimistic.

USC led by a point at halftime against a team that remains unbeaten to this day and is ranked sixth in the nation. The Trojans ended up losing by 12 but were competitive for most of the game.

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The defeat, however, started a skid that has seen USC lose four in a row. The latest defeat came Tuesday at Santa Clara, a double-overtime loss that left the Trojans with a 5-6 record.

They have trailed by 11 points or more at halftime in each of their last three losses, shooting below 40% in each game. Nick Rakocevic, USC’s leading scorer, has fouled out in two of the last three games.

The Trojans have not outrebounded an opponent since Missouri State on Nov. 29, and have not reached double digits in offensive rebounds in five games. They are 194th in the nation in offensive rebounds at 10.2 a game.

In Southern Utah, the Trojans face a team they can beat. The Thunderbirds (5-3) suffered an 11-point loss to Long Beach State, a team USC defeated by 10 points on Nov. 28, and their assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.1 ranks No. 144 in the nation. They are undefeated at home but arrive at the Galen Center with a 2-3 record on the road.

Southern Utah could challenge USC with its versatile offense, with four players averaging more than 10 points a game. Southern Utah has shot 45.5% and held opponents to 38.9% shooting.

UP NEXT

vs. Southern Utah

When: Friday, 8 p.m.

Where: Galen Center.

On the air: TV: Pac-12 Networks; Radio: 830.

Update: Cameron Oluyitan, Brandon Better, Andre Adams and Dwayne Morgan all average double-digit scoring for Southern Utah, which is coming off an overtime win against Pepperdine.

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