Chimezie Metu, despite being listed in documents produced by the FBI investigation into college basketball corruption, found a respite on the court and shut out the noise.
“When I’m on the court, nothing else matters. I was just out there playing. I wasn’t paying attention to anything anybody else was saying,” said Metu, who scored 14 points to lead Southern California to a 74-58 win over Utah on Saturday.
Metu acknowledged extra conversations with compliance officers and the existence of the Yahoo! Sports report that named him as receiving impermissible benefits, but said, “I’m not going to lose any focus at all. I didn’t do anything wrong. Nobody in my family did anything wrong. For me, there was never a doubt I’d play.”
Jordan Usher matched his career high with 14 points and the Trojans (21-9, 12-5 Pac-12 Conference) bolstered their case for an NCAA Tournament bid with their fourth straight win.
“I knew someone needed to step up,” said Usher, who had four 3-pointers. “I always try and stay ready. Today was just my day.”
After the Utes battled back to 55-49, Elijah Stewart made back-to-back dunks to spark a 16-0 run to clinch the game. Stewart finished with 10 points.
“I don’t want to take any of the credit away from USC. They made some big-time shots in the first half and the six open shots they missed, they got rebounds and scored 12 points on them so it was a little bit of a perfect storm for us,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “I’m just proud our guys didn’t fold our tents in the first half and fought back.”
In the midst of the run, Krystkowiak got a technical foul with 7:27 to go and had to be restrained by his assistants from chasing the officials.
David Collette paced Utah (18-10, 10-7) with 14 points as the Utes saw their five-game win streak snapped.
USC held the Utes to 3-of-15 shooting to start the game and frustration led to mistakes. Collette got a flagrant-1 foul with 7:12 left in the first half for an excessive push.
The aggressive Trojans took advantage of weak passes and surged to a 36-19 lead after a dunk by Usher and Shaqquan Aaron’s 3-pointer.
Saturday vs. UCLA, 7:15 p.m., Galen Center, TV: ESPN — The Trojans and Bruins close out the regular season with their second meeting of the season. UCLA won 82-79 on Feb. 3 at Pauley Pavilion.