LOS ANGELES — Star center Branden Carlson returned to the lineup Saturday night for the Utah Runnin’ Utes and had an outstanding game, but USC’s balance proved to be too much and the Trojans took a 71-56 win at the Galen Center.
Carlson finished with 21 points and nine rebounds two nights after missing the UCLA game due to illness. Rollie Worster added 12 for the Utes, who fell to 5-3 in Pac-12 play, 12-7 overall.
USC improved to 5-2 and 13-5.
Here are 3 keys to Utah’s 71-56 loss to USC:
• Southern California had too much offensive balance for the Utes, as Boogie Ellis (17 points) and Tre White (13) led the Trojans to the double-digit win. Ellis, White and Drew Peterson combined to score 31 of USC’s 39 points in the first half as it took a 39-34 lead at the break.
• Branden Carlson returned in a big way, scoring 17 points in the first half on 7 of 9 shooting. He started the second half with a bucket and two free throws, then did not score again the rest of the second half.
• Generally one of the better long-range shooters on the team, Utah’s Gabe Madsen went 1 for 9 in the first half, including 1 of 6 from 3-point range. Madsen finished 2 of 14 (2 of 10 from deep) and the Utes shot 34% from the field.