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5 takeaways from No. 18 Utah’s win at No. 7 USC

Utah Utes forward Alissa Pili (35) controls the ball at University of Utah’s Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Jan. 14, 2024. University of Utah won 93-56.
Utah Utes forward Alissa Pili (35) controls the ball at University of Utah’s Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Jan. 14, 2024. University of Utah won 93-56. | Marielle Scott, Deseret News

No. 18 Utah earned a sweep of USC by countering every rally before holding on to beat the No. 7 Trojans 74-68 at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Sunday.

It’s a critical win for the Utes heading into the final week of the regular season, with teams vying for top seeds in next month’s Pac-12 tournament.

It’s also Utah’s first true road win over a top 25 team since Dec. 8, 2020.

5 takeaways

Top performers: Alissa Pili scored a team-high 23 points — shooting 5 of 10 from the floor while making 12 of 14 free throws — and added nine rebounds. Kennady McQueen poured in 14 points, five rebounds and four assists, as the Utes have four in double-figures (Dasia Young with 13 and Maty Wilke with 11).

Freshman phenom JuJu Watkins led the Trojans with a team-high 30 points and added seven rebounds and five assists. Kaitlyn Davis had 13 points, eight rebounds and three assists.

Utes set tone defensively: Utah established an aggressive defensive approach early, holding USC to 6 points in the first quarter, a season low for the Trojans, as the home team shot 3 of 17 in the period.

The Utes held USC to 40.3% shooting for the game, and while Watkins scored 30, it took her 30 shot attempts. The Trojans made just 4 of 20 3-pointers.

Foul troubles: The Utes won even while dealing with foul trouble to key players.

Ines Vieira fouled out with 6:57 remaining, forcing Utah to play down the stretch without its top ball handler. Dasia Young played much of the second half with four fouls, and Maty Wilke also had four.

Kaitlyn Davis fouled out for USC in the fourth, while freshman phenom JuJu Watkins and Rayah Marshall finished with four fouls.

High assist numbers: Utah ended the game with 21 assists on 23 made field goals. Jenna Johnson had a career-high nine assists.

USC also had a high assist ratio, with the Trojans assisting on 20 of their 27 made field goals.

Shooting and fourth-quarter finish: Utah ended up shooting 48.9% from the field, including 66.7% in the fourth quarter. The Utes made 11 of 27 3-pointers, including three from Wilke.

Utah wrapped up the win from the free-throw line, making 17 of 25 overall and 10 of 16 in the final period.

What’s next?

The Utes (20-8, 10-6 Pac-12) return home to finish the regular season with matchups against Washington State on Thursday (3 p.m. MST, Pac-12 Network) and Washington on Saturday (noon, Pac-12 Washington).

The Huskies knocked off No. 9 Oregon State on Sunday, while the Cougars beat Oregon.