LOS ANGELES — Something had to give in Saturday's lowdown/showdown at the Galen Center.
Unfortunately for the Utah Utes, they gave too much early and never recovered.
In a poorly attended Pac-12 game pitting two teams on skids, USC applied the brakes on a nine-game losing streak with a 62-45 decision over the Utes.
"I'm really happy for our players and fans," said USC coach Kevin O'Neill. "We did a great job digging in there."
Utah, however, had a different perspective.
"We laid an egg in the first half," said head coach Larry Krystkowiak. "We played as poorly in the first half as we possibly could."
All the energy stats, he added, were goose eggs.
Krystkowiak called it a "major setback" for his team.
"We've got a long way to go," he explained. "It was an opportunity for us to win our first road game. It's disappointing that we didn't."
The Trojans' first conference victory extended the Utes' lack of success away from the Huntsman Center to 13 games over two seasons. They haven't prevailed outside of Salt Lake City since Feb. 19, 2011 when Chris Hines hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to defeat New Mexico 62-60 in The Pit.
Speaking of pits, it didn't take long for Utah (5-16, 2-7) to fall into a depth of despair in this one.
USC (6-16, 1-8) made its first four shots from the field and never trailed. The Trojans went on to build a 32-14 halftime advantage. Utah's first-half struggles included 5-of-17 shooting and nine turnovers.
"We had a rough start and they had a great start," Hines said. "It was hard to come back."
Garrett Jackson and Maurice Jones each scored 16 points for the Trojans, who led by as many as 22 at one point in the second half. The Utes drew no closer than 12 down the stretch.
"We should have come out a lot stronger than we did," Hines said. "They took it right to us and we had no response."
USC entered the game with five scholarship players sidelined by season-ending injuries. Sophomore forward Dewayne Dedmon was the latest to join the mix. The 7-footer injured his knee in Thursday's 74-50 loss to Colorado.
In the end, though, it was rebuilding Utah that looked more shorthanded — as was the case earlier in the week in a 76-49 setback at UCLA.
"We came in here expecting to win. We go into all of our games expecting to win — no matter who the opponent is," said center Jason Washburn. "We were really looking forward to coming home with a win and it didn't work out that way for us."
After leaving California empty-handed, the Utes will try regroup back in the Huntsman Center. They host Oregon on Thursday and Oregon State on Saturday.
"It never gets easier. It's challenge each one of these games," Krystkowiak said. "We've got to sort it out, man. We've got to sort it out. It's rough right now."
Dijon Farr topped the Utes with 12 points. Washburn and Hines each contributed 10.
GAME NOTES: Utah turned the ball over 17 times by game's end. … The attendance was 2,826. … Faces in the crowd included Utah legend Billy "The Hill" McGill and Ute signee Josh Hearlihy (North Hollywood, Calif.). … USC now leads the all-time series with Utah by a 16-14 margin.
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