After remaining within striking distance for the majority of the contest, USC had no answer for No. 4 Arizona’s big scoring run midway through the second half. The Wildcats hit seven consecutive shots in the last three minutes of the final period to blow the game wide open. Arizona’s second-half scoring kick was too much for the Trojans to handle, as USC (21-7, 8-7) dropped its third consecutive conference game in a 90-77 loss at the McKale Center on Thursday night. “We got better this week. We played hard tonight,” head coach Andy Enfield said to the media. “We played well enough offensively we just could not stop them down in the second half.”A 3-point field goal from sophomore forward Bennie Boatwright pulled the Trojans within a 51-49 deficit of the Wildcats with over 15 minutes remaining in the game.Arizona (26-3, 15-1) responded with a 20-6 scoring run over the next five minutes of play. The Wildcats extended their lead over USC to 71-55 with 9:36 remaining in the second half. A 3-point shot from junior Arizona guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright gave the Wildcats their largest lead of the night at 78-62 with just over five minutes to play. “They got rolling on offense,” Enfield said. “It’s hard to guard Arizona when they’re shooting the ball at that level. I give Arizona credit. They really played well on offense [and] shot the ball well.”As a team, Arizona finished Thursday night shooting 11-for-20 (55 percent) from beyond the arc. Overall, the Wildcats shot 32-for-63 (51 percent) from the field against the Trojans. Wildcats sophomore guard Allonzo Trier, who finished with a game-high 25 points, hit a 3-point basket at the buzzer to give Arizona a 44-39 halftime lead against the Trojans.Over the final 6:28 of the first half, Arizona shot 10-of-13 (76.9 percent) from the floor. The Wildcats were able to convert on four 3-point field goals in the final 2:30 of the first half. “Arizona did a great job of closing out in the first half,” Enfield said. “They played some great defense against us, too.”The Trojans attempted to mount a comeback late in regulation, pulling within an 80-73 deficit on a pair of Boatwright field goals with under two minutes left in the game. USC had a 20-6 run of its own early on in the first half. With six minutes remaining before the half, the Trojans held a 28-19 lead over Arizona. USC finished the game by missing six of its final eight shots taken in regulation, putting the nail in the road loss.The Trojans suffered a double-digit loss at Arizona’s hands despite shooting 27-for-51 (53 percent) from the field.USC’s game against Arizona was its third consecutive game against a team ranked in the top six nationally. The Trojans are the only team in the nation this season to go through a three-game stretch in which they played three top-six ranked teams. The Trojans dropped all three of these contests by double digits.Boatwright led the way for USC offensively, recording a team-high 23 points on 6-for-11 shooting from the floor. He also finished the game shooting 8-for-8 from the free throw line. The Trojans committed 14 combined turnovers as a team. Arizona capitalized on USC’s offensive lapses, outscoring the Trojans 23-9 on points off of turnovers. USC sophomore forward Chimezie Metu recorded his fifth double-double of the season against Arizona (15 points, 12 rebounds). Boatwright and Metu were two of USC’s four double-digit scorers on Thursday. Junior guard Elijah Stewart and freshman guard De’Anthony Melton finished with 13 and 10 points scored, respectively. Melton also recorded a team-high four assists against the Wildcats. After completing a dunk with 13:21 minutes left in the second half, Metu landed awkwardly and appeared to suffer a minor ankle injury that forced him to leave the game. After taking a quick trip to the locker room, Metu made a prompt return to the floor to play. He scored nine points after returning to the game with 12 minutes left in play. USC will remain in the desert for its final road game of the season against Arizona State (13-15, 6-9) on Sunday. The Trojans will look to avoid their fourth consecutive loss in conference play.
Ambati Rayudu has always been used as a floater in India’s one-day international team, but the Hyderabad batsman has made best use of the opportunities that have come his way.Rayudu, 30, has scored 1055 runs from 33 ODIs at a staggering average of 50.23. His unbeaten knock of 62 in the first game against Zimbabwe made him the joint third fastest (along with skipper MS Dhoni – 33 innings) Indian to reach the 1000-run mark in one-dayers. Only Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli and Navjot Singh Sidhu have got to 1000 in fewer games. (Also read: Mahendra Singh Dhoni ends 20-month wait for ODI series win) Despite not being a regular in the side, Rayudu said he was happy with the way his career has progressed so far. After smashing an unbeaten 41 to guide India to a comfortable eight-wicket win over Zimbabwe on Monday, Rayudu said it was important for him to stay focussed. (Also read: When Makhaya Ntini almost hung himself after losing ODI series to India) “I am really happy with the way my one-day career has gone. Given the guys that we have in the team, somebody has to do the role that I am doing. It’s just important to stay focussed and take my opportunities when they come,” Rayudu said. (Also read: Dhoni defies logic by choosing Rayudu over Pandey at No. 3) ‘DON’T SET MYSELF ANY GOALS’Rayudu said he didn’t take the Zimbabwe tour lightly and trained hard to adapt to the conditions on offer. Notably, Rayudu made his debut at the Harare Sports Club in 2013 and smashed an unbeaten 63 in his maiden ODI innings.advertisement”For me, generally, it’s just about getting my batting in shape. Visualization is the key I think. I try to keep myself motivated and focussed. I prepare myself before a game as though I am going to play it. It doesn’t really matter what series it is, preparation is the same. I just just prepared the way I would for any series. I don’t set myself any goals,” he said.Rayudu said he was feeling confident about his batting and that he had worked on his game to suit the team’s needs. “I am happy with the way I am batting. Unfortunately, everybody couldn’t get a chance. You know the conditions well, but still it’s different every time. I haven’t really looked into the past. I have worked on my game and I am happy with that.”‘KEEN TO WIN LAST GAME’Asked if India are eyeing a whitewash now, he said, “I think when you put on this jersey, definitely, you need to go and do the job for your country, it doesn’t really matter whom you are playing against. I am sure everybody would be keen to win the last game.”It was a dominant performance yet again from the new-look Indian side whose bowlers first skittled the hosts for a lowly 126 in 34.3 overs and the batsmen hardly broke a sweat to get past the target in only 26.5 overs in the second ODI on Monday.