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USC basketball: Washington leads Trojans at halftime, 28-26

December 29, 2010 |  8:32 pm

Pardon the pun, but it's a dogfight at the Galen Center tonight in the Pacific 10 Conference opener for both Washington and USC.

The Huskies, who were the overwhelming favorite to win the conference this year, lead at halftime, 28-26, but they didn't always lead. 

In fact, USC jumped on 16-4 run to start the game, helping silence a strong Washington crowd that is likely stopping over in Los Angeles before heading down to San Diego for Thursday's Holiday Bowl between their Huskies and Nebraska.

Two buckets in that run signified how defense usually wins out against a strong offense.

The first was a steal and one-handed slam by senior guard Marcus Simmons, which was followed by a Maurice Jones steal that led to a two-handed flush by junior forward Nikola Vucevic.

Washington's fast-paced offense, which entered the game ranked second in the nation in scoring (90.5) and had topped the 100-point mark four times, struggled early, failing to score a bucket until the 17-minute mark when senior forward Matt Bryan-Amaning hit a short hook shot. 

But, trailing 16-4, Washington switched from a man-to-man defense to a zone, which USC always struggles against, and went on a a 14-3 run to close that deficit to one with 6:06 left.

That run was fueled by consecutive three-point jumpers by reserve Terrence Ross and two buckets by guard Justin Holiday.

Ross hit another three-point jumper with  1 minute 3 seconds left before halftime to give the Huskies their first lead, 28-26. 

USC is shooting nine for 27, but has missed nine of 10 three-point shots. Washington is shooting 11 for 27 and has made four of eight from beyond the arc. 

Vucevic leads USC with 10 points and seven rebounds. Washington is led by Bryan-Amaning, who has nine points and eight rebounds. 

USC guard Jio Fontan, who on Monday was named the Pac-10 player of the week, is struggling, shooting one for six. He has four points. 

-- Baxter Holmes