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Courtesy: Washington State Athletics
Cougars Power Past Trojans With Strong Second Half
Courtesy: Washington State Athletics
Release: 01/08/2005
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Jan. 8, 2005

AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES - Jeff Varem scored nine of his 21 points in the first nine minutes of the second half Saturday night to help Washington State break open a tight game, and the Cougars beat Southern California 69-52.

Varem, a 6-foot-6, 240-pound senior from Nigeria, is averaging 17.7 points in the Cougars' four Pac-10 games. He shot 10-of-13 against the Trojans, giving him 28 field goals in 41 attempts in conference play. He is averaging 10.4 points overall.

Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver added 10 points each for the Cougars (7-6, 2-2 Pac-10).

Lodrick Stewart scored 14 points for the Trojans (8-7, 0-4). USC is off to its worst conference start since beginning the 1990-91 season with four league losses before rebounding to make the NCAA tournament.

The Cougars shot 63.6 percent in the second half (14-of-22) and 58.7 percent overall, while the Trojans shot 28 percent after halftime (7-of-25) and 34 percent overall.

Neither team led by more than four points until the Cougars went on an 18-4 run to finish the first half and start the second for a 42-29 lead. Low scored his first five points of the game to complete the spurt.

The Trojans closed within nine points before two layups by Varem and baskets by Weaver and Chris Schlatter put the Cougars on top 51-34 lead with 8{ minutes remaining.

At that stage, the Cougars had outscored the Trojans 19-7 in the second half.

USC scored the next eight points to draw within nine again before Varem's dunk with 5:03 left triggered a 18-10 spurt to finish the game.

Stewart, USC's leading scorer, made two 3-pointers in the first 3{ minutes for the Trojans' first six points, but didn't score again until making another 3-pointer with 14 minutes left to play, cutting WSU's lead to 42-32.

Both teams went cold after a basket by USC freshman Gabe Pruitt with nine minutes left in the half cut Washington State's lead to 21-20. Nobody scored again WSU's Randy Green made a basket 4{ minutes later.

The Trojans didn't score for nearly six minutes before a layup by Gregg Guenther and a three-point play by Pruitt 30 seconds later gave them a 25-24 lead. The Cougars went ahead for good on Thomas Kelati's 3-pointer a minute later, snapping a 27-27 tie. It was 32-27 at halftime.

Pruitt, who had eight points and five rebounds, was helped off the floor with 2:07 remaining after sustaining a bruised left kneecap. USC senior guard Errick Craven, who led the Pac-10 in steals last season, missed his fifth game because of a sprained right ankle.

Washington State Cougars Men's Basketball