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USC basketball: Trojans beat Washington State for first Pac-10 win, 60-56

December 31, 2010 |  5:02 pm

Usc1_300 USC needed to salvage a split in its first week of Pacific 10 Conference play after falling to Washington on Wednesday. It did just that by beating Washington State, 60-56, on Friday afternoon at the Galen Center.

The Trojans (9-6, 1-1 in conference play) won an ugly, low-scoring affair, as is typical of most of their games, by playing excellent defense and pounding the ball inside.

USC forwards Alex Stepheson (14 points, 10 rebounds) and Nikola Vucevic (12 points, 11 rebounds) each had double-doubles and USC held the Cougars to 22-for-60 shooting. USC shot 21 for 51. 

Still, it was close. 

A 14-4 run by USC midway through the second half gave the Trojans a 49-38 lead with nine minutes left.

The run was capped by consecutive three-point shots, one from each corner, by USC senior guard Donte Smith, who finished with 14 points.

But Washington State used a late 11-0 run to cut USC's lead to two points with 1:19 left. 

After USC guard Maurice Jones missed a wide-open three-point jumper with 46 seconds left, the Cougars had possession and a chance to take the lead.  

Naturally, the ball went to star guard Klay Thompson, but he passed it to guard Abe Lodwick in the corner with 12 seconds left, and Lodwick fumbled it out of bounds. 

Smith knocked down two free throws on the other end to help USC clinch the victory. 

Washington State (10-4, 0-2) came to L.A. to end a six-game road trip. Now, after losses to both Los Angeles schools, the Cougars will head back to Pullman, Wash., winless in league play. 

Thompson entered the game leading the Pac-10 in scoring (22.6), but he struggled to find any open looks against USC defensive specialist Marcus Simmons.

Thompson missed his first six shots and was two for 12 by halftime. Thompson finished with 17 points on six-for-18 shooting, his only highlight a one-handed slam following a blow-by drive against Vucevic. Thompson also grabbed 10 rebounds.

Cougars junior forward DeAngelo Casto gave USC trouble in the first half, scoring 12 points on five-for-seven shooting. In the second half, he scored only six points, finishing with 18. He shot eight for 11.  

USC won't play again until Jan. 9 when it hosts UCLA at 7:30 p.m.

We'll have more later at latimes.com/sports

-- Baxter Holmes

Photo: USC forward Alex Stepheson, left, and guard Maurice Jones double team Washington State forward DeAngelo Casto in the first half Friday afternoon. Credit: Jason Redmond / Associated Press

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