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USC leans on high-scoring backcourt as Washington State visits

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Southern California seeks its first three-game winning streak of the season on Wednesday when it welcomes Pac-12 Conference counterpart Washington State to Los Angeles.

USC (8-7, 2-2 Pac-12) rebounded from a stretch losing five of six, including its first two conference games, with a home sweep of Bay Area schools Cal and Stanford last week.

The Trojans’ 93 points in a 14-point win last Saturday against Stanford were USC’s second-most scored this campaign. The starting backcourt trio of Isaiah Collier, Boogie Ellis and Kobe Johnson combined to shoot 26-of-47 from the floor for 26, 22 and 21 points, respectively.

“When you have your players understanding what’s working, what’s not, that’s a huge benefit to a coach because they’re feeling and they’re seeing it,” USC coach Andy Enfield said in his postgame news conference.

Ellis, Collier and Johnson lead the Trojans in scoring for the season at 18.8, 15.6 and 11.8 points per game. Bronny James is putting up 6.7 points off the bench in his seven appearances since joining the active lineup on Dec. 10, his comeback from cardiac arrest sustained in the summer.

DJ Rodman, who will face his former team when Washington State visits, averages 6.4 points per game.

The Cougars (10-5, 1-3) arrive on a disappointing start to conference play. Their 89-84 loss to Oregon last Saturday marked Washington State’s fourth loss in the last six games and third in just four Pac-12 games.

Myles Rice scored 22 points in the loss, leading five Cougars in double figures. The 89 points Washington State allowed marked a season high.

Washington State has lost all but one game this season in which it has allowed 69 or more points.

“Our bench was really good,” Cougars coach Kyle Smith said in his postgame news conference on Saturday. “Probably need to play them more.”

Reserves Jaylen Wells and Isaiah Watts scored 15 and 10 points, respectively, and a steal apiece vs. Oregon. Wells also grabbed a team-high six rebounds.

“We’ve been showing we can play defense at the end of the game,” Rice said after Saturday’s loss. “But it’s two halves to a game. We can’t just do it in one half and not the other.”

–Field Level Media

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