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Final: USC 87, Washington 61

1/24/2010

Coming off a disappointing seven-point loss to Washington State, expectations might have been low for USC's Saturday night matchup with Washington at the Galen Center.

But, boy, were those expectations wrong.

The Trojans dominated the Huskies in nearly every area, scoring a season-high 87 points while limiting the high-scoring Huskies to 61.

USC (12-7, 4-3) had five players in double figures, including forward Marcus Johnson (22 points), Dwight Lewis (19), and Alex Stepheson (15). The Trojans also got 15 points and seven assists from Mike Gerrity and 11 points and 13 rebounds from Nikola Vucevic.

Washington (12-7, 3-5) didn't get quite the same offensive production. Reserve guard Venoy Overton had a team-high 18 points and Isaiah Thomas had 14, but leading scorer Quincy Pondexter was held to two points.

In all, it's safe to say USC coach Kevin O'Neill was pleased with his team's performance.

"The guys did an admirable job of bouncing back after a bad loss," O'Neill said. "We played a full 40 minutes and we defended well."

Key player: Johnson was ultra-efficient, both on offense and defense. He scored his 22 points on only 11 shots, all the while nearly single-handedly limiting Pondexter to a miserable one-for-10 shooting effort.

Altogether, it's safe to say Johnson had a good night. A reporter asked him afterward if he was happier with his defensive or offensive performance.

"I'm just happy about the victory we got as a team today," Johnson said. "I'm elated about it."

Key play: With six minutes left and the score 69-48, Pondexter missed a three-point attempt. Vucevic — who played considerably better than he had against Washington State — took the rebound and relayed it to Gerrity. From beyond mid-court, Gerrity proceeded to lob an incredible pass to Johnson.

Both players said there was no eye contact involved, just pure instinct.

Johnson jumped from a distance — "the three-point line," Stepheson said — and reached the ball just in time to produce a thunderous slam. Fans roared, players reacted passionately, and the Galen Center video board replayed the sequence over and over.

Key development: It's more of a re-development than a development, but the USC defense reverted back to its normal self. The Trojans held the Huskies to 37 percent shooting and forced 13 turnovers, only two days after allowing 45 percent shooting to Washington State.

"For us, it all starts and ends with defense," O'Neill said. "When we defend like we did the other night, we lose. When we defend like we did tonight, we always have a chance to win."

Said Washington coach Lorenzo Romar: "Their defense was astounding."

Quote of the night: Stepheson, on his thought process during the lob from Gerrity to Johnson: "He did not throw a lob right now. Tell me he did not throw a lob right now."

Notes: USC football coach Lane Kiffinwas in the building, as announced early on in the second half. Kiffin received considerable applause from the crowd of 5,876. ... USC's previous high in points was 77 — against both Tennessee and UC Riverside.