USC is did exactly what coach Kevin O'Neill preached to them this week in practice: keep Klay Thompson and Reggie Moore out of the lane and force them into mediocre shots.
And, lo and behold, the Trojans took a 34-24 lead at the break.
Dwight Lewis and Marcus Johnson led USC with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Offensively, Mike Gerrity still isn't scoring, but he found his teammates with more regularity. The senior point guard had five assists in the first half.
21 of the Cougars' 24 points came via Thompson or Moore, but the duo shot only 7-of-17 from the field. Forward DeAngelo Casto averages more than 10 per game, but he only put up one (failed) shot attempt.
O'Neill said Wednesday that he knew Washington State's bench would outscore his — it was just a matter of by how much. But the USC bench actually outscored the Cougars' reserves, 7-4, halfway through this one.
Backup point guard Donte Smith hit a 3-pointer midway through the half, and sixth man Leonard Washington (4 points) had a couple powerful takes.
The Trojans out-shot the Cougars 42 percent to 33 percent.