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Emerging Defenses Meet When USC Faces Colorado

Southern California will take the court Thursday, Jan 12, in its first home game since Dec. 18, while trying to snap a Pac-12 Conference losing streak when it welcomes Colorado to Los Angeles.

The Trojans (11–5, 3–2 Pac-12) won seven straight from Nov. 30–Dec. 30, but dropped their last two at the end of a three-game conference road swing. USC fell behind early at Washington State on Jan. 1 and could never rally in an 81-71 defeat—the Trojans’ first loss to the Cougars since 2013.

USC again dug an early hole Jan. 5 at crosstown rival UCLA but battled back from an 18-point halftime deficit to take a 58–56 lead in the final minute on the back of a relentless defense. The Bruins’ Jaylen Clark hit a 3-pointer with 15 seconds remaining to sink the Trojans 60–58.

“We’re still a team that’s developing and we’re improving since the beginning of the season. You saw that (at UCLA), especially in the second half. But, it’s frustrating as well,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “You have to make plays if you’re going to win close games like this.”

After the three straight road games against the Washington schools and UCLA, and a neutral-court matchup with Colorado State in Phoenix on Dec. 21, USC is back at the Galen Center for the first time since knocking off Auburn last month.

Colorado (11–6, 3–3) arrives looking to spoil the Trojans’ homecoming. The Buffaloes are winners of their last two and seven of their last eight.

They crushed both Oregon and Oregon State last week, holding the Ducks to 41 points in a 27-point blowout, and the Beavers to 42 points in a 20-point rout.

“They have taken the scouting report, and we’ve locked down the best players on the other team scoring-wise,” Buffs coach Tad Boyle said following the win over Oregon State. “…A combined 83 points in two games back-to-back hasn’t been done (at Colorado) since the (1940s).”

Colorado’s focus on locking down opponents’ leading scorers would suggest a focus squarely on the USC backcourt duo of Boogie Ellis and Drew Peterson, who average 15.7 and 13.7 points per game to pace the Trojans.

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