BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Even if all is not forgotten following last month’s feud between USC and Colorado, Trojans junior Chimezie Metu still agreed to take a few selfies with fans as he left the Buffaloes’ court Wednesday night.
USC made it clear, its focus was on the bigger picture.
Metu scored 21 points, Jordan McLaughlin added 18 and USC beat Colorado 75-64.
It was the teams’ first meeting since the two traded barbs in January. It started with Colorado coach Tad Boyle’s comments about taking extra pleasure in beating teams like Arizona, which like USC, are included in the FBI’s ongoing corruption probe into the sport. Then USC coach Andy Enfield seemingly retaliated when the two teams met on Jan. 10, calling an unnecessary timeout with 21 seconds remaining in a game the Trojans led by 12.
Neither coach expounded the issue after the game on Wednesday.
Enfield said his team has its eyes on other things as the Trojans continue to make their case for the NCAA Tournament.
“We just focused on the task at hand, that was to try to play our best basketball here,” USC’s coach said. “We knew it was an important game and now we’re going to focus on Utah.”
Tied at 58, the Trojans (20-9, 11-5 Pac 12) pulled away on a 12-0 run in the waning minutes. McLaughlin had two 3s as part of the burst, letting out a victorious scream after swishing the second.
Metu was 10 of 16 from the field and McLaughlin was 6 of 10, including 4 of 6 behind the arc. USC shot 55 percent for the game.
“We’ve been in a situation before where we were on the road, and up, and needed stops and weren’t able to get them,” Metu said. “We just buckled down and learned from our mistakes and got the ‘W’.”
Lucas Siewert led Colorado (15-13, 7-9) with 16 points and a career-most eight rebounds. McKinley Wright IV added 12 points on a night he surpassed former star Chauncey Billups for the most assists in a season by a Colorado freshman.
The Buffaloes didn’t score a point for 7 minutes, 28 seconds late in the second half as the Trojans pulled away.
Siewert fueled a 14-0 run, hitting two 3s and converting a 3-point play, to put the Buffaloes up 52-50 with 12:27 remaining.
“We got back into the game and we just couldn’t close it out,” Siewert said. “That was our problem.”
USC got back on track on the road, snapping a three-game losing streak away from the Galen Center. The Trojans need to win to keep their tournament hopes alive. They have two games remaining before the Pac-12 Tournament.
Colorado, more than a longshot to make the 68-team field, would have loved a chance to deliver a serious blow to USC’s tournament hopes while improving their own postseason hopes. Boyle said afterward, however, there was no extra incentive because it was the Trojans.
“This was an important game for us to put ourselves in position for postseason play, which every loss you get further and further away from that,” he said. “That’s why this loss hurts. It has nothing to do with that other stuff.”
SUSPENDED MELTON LEAVING SCHOOL
USC sophomore guard De’Anthony Melton announced his decision to withdraw from the university Wednesday morning, turning his attention to preparing for the pros. Melton did not suit up for the Trojans this season due to eligibility issues swirling around the FBI’s probe into corruption and bribery in college basketball.
“After much thought and consideration, we, as a family, have made the difficult decision for me to withdraw from the school,” Melton announced on Twitter. “. I have reached a crossroads wherein I have decided to focus on honing my strengths and improving my weaknesses for competition at the next level.”
In January, the school decided to suspend Melton for the rest of the season after it determined that a close family friend received an extra benefit.
“Well, he’s been through a lot this academic year,” Enfield said. “We’ve always been very supportive of De’Anthony. He’ll always be a Trojan and we anticipate De’Anthony to have a very successful career in the NBA.”
USC is at Utah on Saturday.
Colorado will play its final home game of the season against UCLA on Sunday.