PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) — Nick Rakocevic scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds and USC never trailed en route to a 93-84 win over Washington State on Saturday night.
Jonah Mathews scored 20 points on 6-7 shooting from 3-point range for USC (13-9, 6-3). Bennie Boatwright added 18 points and five rebounds.
Robert Franks scored 25 points for Washington State (8-14, 1-8). Ahmed Ali added 18 points and seven assists.
USC exploded to start the game with a 16-4 run in the first seven minutes of the game. Shaqquan Aaron knocked down a 3-pointer, followed by a jumper from Derryck Thornton and a big dunk underneath the basket by Victor Uyaelunmo.
WSU fought back with an 8-0 run of their own to make it a seven-point game after 3's from Aljaz Kunc and Viont'e Daniels, followed by a layup from Franks.
USC answered with a 17-2 run over 3:30 to retain a 19-point lead. Rakocevic scored the first six points of the run after a layup and four-point play. Rakocevic was fouled on a layup, missed his free throw and recovered his own rebound for an easy bucket under the rim completing the four-point play.
The run was capped by a jumper from Thornton and a 3-pointer from Boatwright. USC lead at halftime 47-33.
WSU cut the lead to eight points at one point in the second half but USC went on an 11-2 run over 3:30 with a jumper and 3-pointer from Kevin Porter Jr. during the run. The Trojan run gave them a 16-point lead with 10 left in the game.
The Cougars within single digits after a 3-pointer from Franks cut the lead to eight with 22 seconds remaining but USC would make their free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
USC: The Trojans wrapped up their two-game road trip with a much-needed win against a bad Cougar team. The race is heating up in the Pac-12 Conference where the first four seeds get a first-round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament.
Washington State: The Cougars are on a five-game losing streak after beating California on Jan. 17. With blowout losses in the last four games, WSU is desperate to get back in the win column. WSU looks to finish the season at the bottom of the conference standings.
USC: The Trojans will host Utah on Wednesday.
Washington State: The Cougars will travel to play Arizona State on Thursday.