SALT LAKE CITY – Drew Peterson feels he can’t miss.
“I don’t think I’ve ever shot it like this. I’m feeling good and my teammates are finding me,” said Peterson.
Peterson scored 23 points and Boogie Ellis added 18 points to the Southern California No 16 ahead of Utah 79-67 on Saturday.
“The ball is moving. Having 18 assists in just six (in Thursday’s win over Colorado) makes a big difference,” said Peterson.
When the Utes team finally reached the single digits with 5:38 to play, Max Agbonkpolo beat and Peterson hit a 3-pointer for USC (16-2, 6-2 Pac-12).
Peterson made all five of his 3-point efforts and made 9-10s from the pitch, in addition to 7 rebounds.
“The team has recently gone under my screen a bit, knowing I wanted to get into the paint. So I’m trying to keep them honest by shooting the 3s open,” says Peterson.
USC’s 16-2 start to the season was its hottest since the 1970-71 team – often considered the best Trojan team ever – started 17-1 on its way to a record 24- 2.
“I don’t think this team is as good as Paul Westphal’s team. It was one of the greatest teams in USC history. But I love our team. We played hard and played well together,” said USC coach Andy Enfield.
Currently in full swing in his first season through injury, Gabe Madsen had a career-high 20 points for Utah (8-12, 1-9).
“I was expecting this. I’ve done a lot of work and I’m proud to be a gym buff. Today, opportunity met preparation,” said Madsen, who is recovering from a collapsed lung.
Lazar Stefanovic scored 10 points for the Utes, who had lost eight consecutive games.
The height of the Trojans disturbed the Ute army around the perimeter and their swiftness interrupted the Utah attack. The 42-31 rebound difference gives the Trojan a 15 second chance point and a 40-20 point advantage in the paint.
“There is nothing USC doesn’t have. They have great point guard play, great fitness in and out of formations, elite size and versatility. When you make mistakes, they cost you,” said Utah coach Craig Smith.
USC led 15 in the first half when Peterson hit a three-pointer to make it 29-14. Madsen’s trio of 3s and several key hustle plays gave Utes 35-30 in the round.
“It hasn’t been easy and it’s been tough going up the mountain but I’m so proud of our team for regrouping after a tough week last week. We’ve come back to the kind of defense we’ve come to expect from them,” said Enfield.
Branden Carlson, Utah’s top scorer, is close to returning but is sidelined and has now missed five games due to appendicitis.
USC defeated Utah 93-73 on December 1 in Los Angeles.
USC: The Trojan attack wasn’t exactly a smooth running machine but it was enough, especially when Peterson kicked in and they got a few quick break points easily in the second half. USC’s defense nearly choked throughout the game and kept Utah shooting to 36%.
Utah: Utes honors Wat Misaka, member of Utah’s 1944 NCAA and NIT championship teams, a Japanese-American who passed away in 2019. Playing for the New York Knicks, Misaka is the top non-white player. pioneer in the American Basketball Association, the forerunner of the NBA. Even Utah’s recent glory days may seem far-fetched when comparing skill to a team like USC, but the Utes are still giving their all in the face of increasing losses.
Trojan ranked high in 5th place before losing conference games to Stanford and Oregon, but a rare mountain sweep in Colorado and Utah could help Trojan back into the top 10.
https://www.sbsun.com/2022/01/22/drew-peterson-helps-no-16-usc-beat-utah/ Drew Peterson helps USC No. 16 beat Utah – San Bernardino Sun