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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Washington Huskies have wasted no time showing the Pac-12 Conference they've made big strides under first-year coach Mike Hopkins.
Noah Dickerson scored 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead Washington to its first conference road win in almost two years, an 88-81 victory over Southern California in a conference opener for both teams on Friday night.
"It means a lot," Dickerson said of the road win. "It means as a team we're growing and we're learning coach's new system and we're playing like we're supposed to play. This is big because we're just getting to know each other."
Jaylen Nowell and Dominic Green each added 16 points as The Huskies (11-3) put five players in double figures, shot a season-high 67 percent and snapped a 14-game game conference losing streak. Matisse Thybulle chipped in 14 points and Sam Timmins 10 for Washington.
Despite the off-the-charts offensive shooting percentage, Hopkins was most impressed by his players holding Southern Cal to just 3-for-20 on 3-point shots.
"They're one of the best offensive teams that I've seen, and I've watched them a lot," Hopkins said. "They have talented players, and we just wanted to take away the 3-point shot. They're so potent they've got guys coming off the bench doing it."
Instead it was the Huskies who couldn't miss. Washington made 18-of-29 shots in the first half (62 percent) and 19-of-26 in the second.
"Our defense was just terrible," said Southern Cal Coach Andy Enfield. "We allowed them to score against our zone in the first half, so we switched to man-to-man in the second half, and our man defense was worse.
"Even though we didn't play good defense, we missed a lot of wide open threes — four or five times in transition when we could have made it a one-possession game. We just could not get that key basket," Enfield said.
Washington's inside game got the Southern California big men in foul trouble early to snap a six-game losing streak against Southern California, and evened its record to 2-2 away from home.
"Once they pick up that first and second foul, they don't want to pick up a third," said Dickerson. "They get timid, and that allows me to do what I have to do."
Chimezie Metu scored 26 points and Bennie Boatwright added 24 as Southern California (9-5) lost a conference home opener for the first time in four years. With his 26 points, Metu eclipsed 1,000 points in his Trojan career.
Down 19-9 early, the Huskies took control inside and outscored the Trojans 32-16 until halftime, taking a 41-35 lead on Nahziah Carter's driving layup with four seconds left in the first half.
Washington got the Trojans' big men in foul trouble early, with center Chimezie Metu and forward Nick Rakocevic each picking up two fouls in the opening 11:07. Rakocevic picked up his third 2:05 into the second half, and Southern California struggled to control Washington inside most of the rest of the way.
The Huskies used an 11-4 run to take control late, opening a 64-52 lead on Nowell's layup with 9:00 to play. The Trojans never got closer than 86-79 the rest of the way.
Washington: The Huskies, who went 0-9 in conference road games a year ago, open their Pac-12 schedule this season with three consecutive road games. The Huskies had lost 14 consecutive conference road games since Jan. 28, 2016 when they defeated UCLA at Pauley Pavilion 86-84.
Southern California: The crowd at the Galen Center was sparse, as the game tipped off with the No. 8 Southern California football team playing in the second half of the Cotton Bowl against No. 5 Ohio State. The Cotton Bowl feed was displayed on the overhead scoreboard during timeouts and throughout halftime.
Washington: The Huskies resume their conference schedule Sunday night against UCLA at Pauley Pavilion.
Southern California: The Trojans play host to Washington State on Sunday night.
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