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Arizona 74, USC 50

The SportsXchange

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Sixth-ranked Arizona held USC to 28.1 percent shooting as the Wildcats bounced back from their loss to UCLA with a 74-50 victory at McKale Center on Saturday.

The Wildcats (17-2, 5-2) never trailed, pushing a 19-point halftime lead to 31 points midway through the second half and coasting from there.

Sophomore guard Nick Johnson led Arizona with 14 points, including a soaring reverse dunk with 8:11 left that brought the announced crowd of 14,578 to its feet. Senior forward Solomon Hill had 13 points, five rebounds and four assists. Starting freshman post players Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski combined for 21 points and 14 boards.

USC (8-13, 3-5) dropped to 1-3 under interim head coach Bob Cantu.

The three previous games under Cantu had been decided by a total of eight points, but the cold-shooting Trojans were never in Saturday's game, losing for the fifth consecutive time in Tucson. USC, which was 2 of 19 from the field at one point in the first half, ended the game 18 of 64.

USC failed to place a player in double-figure points, with point guard Jio Fontan leading the way with nine points.

Arizona played the final two minutes with four walk-ons and freshman guard Gabe York on the court. USC took advantage by making four of its final five shots, but the Trojans still finished with a season-low point total. Their previous low was 51 at Nebraska on Dec. 3.

Arizona, which fell behind 21-5 in a loss to UCLA on Thursday, got off to a hot start against USC. The Wildcats forced four turnovers in the first three minutes and led 6-0 when Trojans interim coach Bob Cantu called his first timeout with 16:58 to play.

Arizona never let up, suffocating USC's offense. The Trojans, who were averaging 72.4 points through seven conference games and had been shooting a league-best 46.4 percent in Pac-12 games, started 1 of 11 from the field.

USC was 2 of 19 as the Wildcats built their largest lead of the half at 29-7 lead with 7:55 to go. Eric Wise ended Arizona's 11-0 run with a basket, but much of the damage had had been done.

Arizona's Mark Lyons hit a 3-pointer with three seconds left in the half to give the Wildcats a 39-20 lead at the break.

Sophomore Nick Johnson, coming off a career-high-tying 23 points vs. UCLA, led Arizona with 10 points in the first half.

NOTES: Cantu, coaching his fourth game since Kevin O'Neill was fired, has a 0-2 record against Arizona. He had filled in for a suspended O'Neill for one game in the 2011 Pac-10 tournament, losing 67-62 to the Wildcats. ... Arizona and USC have played 101 times, with the Cats holding a 61-40 edge.
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