for this game

Washington State tops USC, showdown with UCLA next

Jan 11, 2008 - 8:04 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Washington State's early outside shooting and second-half efficiency helped the Cougars remain unbeaten and get ready for their next showdown.

Daven Harmeling scored 19 points and Aron Baynes added 18 as the fourth-ranked Cougars surged past Southern California, 73-58, in a Pac-10 Conference matchup on Thursday.

Washington State (14-0, 2-0 Pac-10) continued its march to the best start in school history of 17-0, which was set during the 1914-15 season. The 2-0 record in the conference is also the first time that has happened in 13 seasons.

Up next for the Cougars figures to be their stiffest test to date when they visit No. 5 UCLA on Saturday. The Bruins have won the past two Pac-10 regular-season titles and have beaten the Cougars in 28 of the last 29 meetings between the two teams.

Washington State came into the game with the nation's best scoring defense, allowing 49.8 points per game, but early on it was its outside shooting that helped it get an early advantage.

Harmeling went 4-of-5 from the arc as Washington State made 7-of-12 3-pointers in the first half, helping it take a 27-23 halftime lead.

The 3-point shooting was even more impressive as Washington State hit just 2-of-15 shots from inside the arc during the first half.

But the Cougars became much more efficient in the second half and an early spurt pushed their lead into double digits and essentially putting the game out of reach.

Leading by three early after the intermission, the Cougars created some separation with an 11-2 run - capped by a 3-pointer by Derrick Low - to take a 45-33 advantage with 12:25 left to play. The lead grew to as many as 14 and the Trojans never got closer than eight over the game's final 13 minutes.

Washington State did not commit a turnover in the second half until there was 6:44 left in the contest, and it shot 62 percent (16-of-26) over the final 20 minutes.

The Trojans were outscored, 22-0, in bench points and their 13 turnovers led to 22 points off for the Cougars.

Freshman O.J. Mayo scored 22 points on 9-of-17 shooting to lead the Trojans (9-6, 0-3), who became the fifth straight team to score less than 60 points against the Cougars.

USC trailed by six late in the first half before going on a 9-0 - capped by a dunk by Taj Gibson - to take a 21-18 lead with 2:36 left in the half.

But the Cougars regained their six-point bulge after Harmeling nailed three consecutive shots from the arc - the last one coming with just under one minute to go in the first.

Gibson and Dwight Lewis each chipped in 16 points for USC, which shot 54 percent (26-of-48) for the game.