Boogie Ellis, USC seek season split vs. Washington State


Southern California looks to avenge an earlier loss to Washington State when the teams meet in a Pac-12 matchup on Thursday in Los Angeles.

The Trojans (15-6, 7-3 Pac-12) have made great strides since Jan. 1, when they shot 3 of 18 (16.7 percent) on 3-point attempts in an 81-71 loss to the Cougars in Pullman, Wash.

USC recorded a statement win on Jan. 26, using a 52-point second half to rally past crosstown rival and then-No. 8-ranked UCLA 77-64. Senior point guard Boogie Ellis was named Pac-12 Player of the Week after scoring a career-high 31 points in the win.

Ellis scored 27 in the second half, including 10 points during the team’s 25-3 run, and has averaged 18.7 points over the last 10 games.

“When he gets it going, he’s really hard to guard,” USC coach Andy Enfield said after the game. “He played like a first-round draft pick tonight. It was very impressive.”

The Trojans are riding a 10-game home winning streak, but they will need to be careful not to overlook Washington State (10-13, 5-7).

The Cougars snapped a three-game losing streak with a 75-58 win over Arizona State on Saturday. Andrej Jakimovski scored a career-high 22 points, Justin Powell had a season-high 20 and Mouhamed Gueye had his second consecutive double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds.

“Our guys did a really good job of just playing tough,” Washington State coach Kyle Smith said. “We had some guys that didn’t play as well as they could have, but we played hard, played like a team and it was a really good win for us.”

Gueye is averaging 13.3 points and 8.3 rebounds for the Cougars, who are making a league-high 8.6 3-point field goals per game.

The 6-foot-11 Gueye figures to be tested by USC freshman Vincent Iwuchukwu, who suffered cardiac arrest last July and has played five games since returning to limited practice in December.

The 7-1 forward had six points in 17 minutes against UCLA. The impressive win moved the Trojans one game back of the first-place Bruins in the Pac-12 standings.

“This is a start,” Ellis said. “We still have more to prove. Winning one game against UCLA, it’s great. It’s great for the rivalry. But we still have more to prove.”

–Field Level Media

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