Cold-shooting USC can’t catch No. 11 Arizona in loss

USC forward Joshua Morgan, center, and guard Drew Peterson, right, pressure Arizona center Oumar Ballo during the second half on Thursday night in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

USC guard Drew Peterson drives as Arizona guard Cedric Henderson Jr. defends during the first half on Thursday night in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

USC guard Boogie Ellis drives as Arizona guard Kylan Boswell defends during the first half on Thursday night in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

USC forward Joshua Morgan shoots over Arizona guard Kerr Kriisa during the first half on Thursday night in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

USC guard Drew Peterson drives as Arizona guard Kylan Boswell defends during the first half on Thursday night in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

USC forward Kobe Johnson drives as Arizona center Oumar Ballo defends during the first half on Thursday night in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Arizona guard Kylan Boswell, left, fouls USC guard Drew Peterson during the first half on Thursday night in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Arizona guard Pelle Larsson shoots over USC forward Harrison Hornery during the second half on Thursday night in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Arizona center Oumar Ballo shoots over USC forward VIncent Iwuchukwu (3) as guard Boogie Ellis looks on during the second half on Thursday night in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Arizona guard Kerr Kriisa drives past USC forward Vincent Iwuchukwu during the second half on Thursday night in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Arizona guard Kylan Boswell drives as USC forward Joshua Morgan defends during the second half on Thursday night in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

USC forward Joshua Morgan, right, fouls Arizona center Oumar Ballo during the second half on Thursday night in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Arizona guard Pelle Larsson shoots over USC guard Malik Thomas and guard Drew Peterson (13) during the second half on Thursday night in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

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By JOHN MARSHALL AP Basketball Writer

TUCSON, Ariz. — USC followed one of its best performances with one of its most disappointing, done in by poor shooting and too many turnovers in the desert.

Courtney Ramey scored 16 points, Azoulas Tubelis had 15 points and 17 rebounds, and No. 11 Arizona used a revamped lineup to beat USC, 81-66, on Thursday night.

USC (13-6, 5-3) shot 37% overall, including a 4-for-17 mark from 3-point range.

Drew Peterson led the Trojans with 15 points, but he had just four after halftime before fouling out. Leading scorer Boogie Ellis had 11 points on 2-of-11 shooting with four turnovers.

“We need our best players to play well, especially on the road against Arizona, if you’re going to have a chance to win,” USC coach Andy Enfield said.

Frustrated with another offensive letdown, Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd decided he was going to shake up his starting lineup.

Before pulling the trigger, Lloyd wanted to run it by his team. They were all for it and it couldn’t have worked out much better.

“Starting doesn’t mean a lot to me,” Lloyd said. “It’s about putting lineups out there, finishing games and finding combinations.”

Lloyd’s decision to make the change came shortly after last week’s 19-point loss to Oregon. Arizona’s offense needed a spark and so did its bench, so Lloyd moved Cedric Henderson Jr. to the starting lineup in place of Pelle Larsson.

The Wildcats (16-3, 5-3 Pac-12) had a much better offensive flow at the start, racing to a 15-point halftime lead. Arizona bogged down a bit in the second half, but shot 48% from the floor and 12 for 24 from 3 after failing to eclipse 38% in four of its last five games.

Larsson had 15 of Arizona’s 21 bench points. Henderson finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.

USC played one of its best all-around games in a 71-56 victory over Utah on Saturday. Against Arizona, Enfield used 11 players in the first half, trying to find a combination that worked.

USC had trouble stopping Tubelis and Oumar Ballo in the post early while struggling with Arizona’s offensive movement through most of the first half.

The Trojans were disjointed offensively from the opening tip, struggling with turnovers and getting shots to fall. USC shot 11 for 34 and had nine first-half turnovers.

Arizona offset 11 turnovers with 14-of-27 shooting, taking a 41-26 halftime lead on Ramey’s last-second 3-pointer.

“It really was depressing from an offensive standpoint because we had really clean looks,” Enfield said. “And seemed like we would miss a few and they come down and make a couple to extend the lead.”

The Trojans tried to cut into the lead in the second half, but Arizona had an answer each time.

USC scored the first six points of the first half to get within nine. Henderson followed with consecutive 3-pointers.

The Trojans used an 11-3 run to pull within 60-47, only to watch it climb back to 18 on a short Kerr Kriisa jumper and a Larsson 3-pointer.

Arizona didn’t have a huge rebounding edge, finishing with a 43-36 advantage, but Enfield had an issue with where the rebounds came from.

Tubelis and Ballo combined for 24 rebounds, with Tubelis grabbing 13 on the defensive glass.

USC’s big men combined for one defensive rebound.

“To have five guys with one defensive rebound needs to be better,” Enfield said. “We’re looking for guys to step up and defend and rebound at a higher level than that.”

BIG PICTURE

USC has the length to match up with Arizona, but not the heft. The beefier Wildcats scored 30 points in the paint and made it tough for the Trojans to get into any kind of offensive rhythm.

Arizona had good offensive flow with its new-look lineup in the first half and an answer every time USC tried to make a run. The Wildcats were solid at the defensive end all night to beat the Trojans for the 11th time in the past 12 games in Tucson.

UP NEXT

USC will try for a weekend split when it plays at Arizona State on Saturday at 7 p.m. PT.

Arizona hosts No. 5 UCLA on Saturday at 11 a.m. PT

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