Flying high off rivalry win, No. 17 USC faces Washington
Hours before a rivalry game against UCLA on Saturday, Southern California learned it would be without leading scorer and rebounder Isaiah Mobley (14.7 points, 8.5 rebounds per game) because of lingering concussion-like symptoms.
In Mobley's absence, Drew Peterson stepped up with a career-high 27 points and 12 rebounds for his first double-double of the season as the then-No. 21 Trojans defeated the visiting Bruins 67-64.
"(Peterson) did everything. He looked like a superstar out there. He was so good," USC coach Andy Enfield said.
The Trojans (21-4, 10-4 Pac-12) moved up to No. 17 in the AP Top 25 poll after that win and hope to have Mobley back when they play host to Washington on Thursday night in Los Angeles.
"This game meant a lot to our players. They knew it was an important game in the Pac-12 standings, national standings and it's a crosstown rivalry," Enfield said. "I cannot be more proud of these young men because of the effort and (there was) a lot of grit."
Peterson also blocked five shots and had four assists as the Trojans beat their rival for the fifth straight time and moved into a tie for second place in the conference standings with Oregon, behind only Arizona.
Not only were the Trojans without Mobley on Saturday, but second-leading scorer Boogie Ellis was held without a point, missing all seven of his shots from the field.
Enter Peterson, who had been in a shooting slump of his own.
"I was, I think, 1 of 13 in the Arizona game, and I was passing up 3s the other day against Pacific, but my coaches and teammates trust me to shoot," Peterson said. "Fortunately, I was knocking them down (Saturday) and I was feeling really confident, and that's something I had to work through."
Peterson, who admitted he has considered himself a defensive liability through most of his collegiate career, helped limit UCLA's Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez Jr. to a combined 17 points on 6-for-27 shooting.
"The coaches kept telling me you've got it in you and you're athletic enough to do it, and I really made it a mission to try and play better defense this year," Peterson said.
The Huskies (13-10, 8-5) have been one of the biggest surprises in the conference after being picked 11th in the preseason media poll.
Terrell Brown Jr., who played at Arizona last season, is one of four transfers with Seattle-area roots -- Daejon Davis, PJ Fuller and Emmitt Matthews Jr. are the others -- who returned home this season to try and get the Washington program back on track.
Brown leads the conference in scoring with 22.1 points per game and is fourth with 4.3 assists.
The Huskies took a 14-point lead midway through the first half against visiting Arizona on Saturday before falling, 92-68.
"They called a timeout, made some adjustments on how they were going to guard (Brown) and how they were going to attack our zone," Washington coach Mike Hopkins said. "From that on, they scored a lot and we had zero resistance."
--Field Level Media
Updated February 15, 2022