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3 keys to Utah’s 93-73 loss to USC

Branden Carlson’s ankle injury in the first half keeps Utah from making a game of it at Galen Center.

Southern California forward Isaiah Mobley, right, makes contact with Utah guard Lazar Stefanovic (20) as forward Max Agbonkpolo (23) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Los Angeles, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021.
Alex Gallardo, AP

Shorthanded Utah couldn’t afford any more injuries, but got one in the first half Wednesday night anyway when star center Branden Carlson went down with a right ankle injury.

After that, the Runnin’ Utes proved to be no match for the No. 18-ranked USC Trojans, falling 93-73 at Galen Center in the Pac-12 opener for both schools.

Here are three keys to USC’s victory:

• The Trojans led just 17-14 when Carlson left the game, but dominated the rest of the half, especially inside, to take a 48-28 lead at the break. The Utes played a bit better in the second half, particularly on offense, but the damage was done and they fell to 5-2, 0-1 in conference play.

• Memphis transfer Boogie Ellis and returning star Isaiah Mobley combined for 40 points for USC. The Trojans shot 62% in the first half to build a 20-point cushion and finished shooting 53%. Only a 14 of 25 performance from the free-throw line put a damper on a standout night for last spring’s Elite 8 team.

• Both Gach broke from a subpar shooting game against BYU last Saturday and scored 28 points on 10 of 13 shooting, but most of the other Utes were cold most of the night. Utah was held to 38% shooting.