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That No. 25 national ranking next to USC's name meant little to the Utes as they prepared for Thursday night.
What did mean something: The last time USC beat Utah was three years and two Trojan head coaches ago. This group of Utes didn't want to break that chain.
"That wasn't happening," junior forward David Collette said. "We weren't going to be the first ones."
Top 25? It would be hard to guess which team was the ranked one, based on Utah running through USC's meager defense for an 86-64 victory the team's eighth straight against USC to the delight of an adoring crowd at the Huntsman Center.
Five Utes (12-4, 3-1 Pac-12) scored in double figures, led by Devon Daniels with 17 points. Utah shot 55 percent from the field, the third-best shooting performance of the season, and hit a season-best 9 for 17 from 3-point range.
In the end, the Trojans went quietly. Notching his eighth double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds, junior Kyle Kuzma said he saw USC's will wilt in the second half, particularly against Utah's ironclad zone, shooting 36.7 percent.
"I feel like they gave up a little bit in the second half," Kuzma said. "They stopped running. Our zone really flustered them and they weren't playing defense because their shots weren't falling."
It was Utah's first win over a top-25 opponent after losses earlier this season to Butler, Xavier and Arizona. It was the most promising sign yet heading into a matchup with No. 4 UCLA on Saturday afternoon.
The Utes' latest victory over the Trojans didn't resemble an upset as much as routine: Utah has beaten USC by an average of 15 points during the 8-game win streak, and USC coach Andy Enfield is 0-7 overall against Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak.
The domination was punctuated with 5:38 left when sophomore Sedrick Barefield tossed an alley-oop to senior Lorenzo Bonam in transition, the dunk bringing Utah's lead to 23 points and throwing the 12,470 in attendance to their feet.
It didn't start so easy: Utah missed their first five shots of the game, spotting USC a 10-0 advantage. When Jordan McLaughlin hit a layup to put Utah down double digits before they had logged a point, Krystkowiak called a timeout only three minutes into the game.
"I just didn't like the look in our guys' faces," he said. "We kind of got punched in the mouth."
There wasn't many tweaks to the gameplan: Utah had missed three shots that had dribbled out of the rim. The coaching staff told the players to keep shooting with confidence, and shots would fall.
Sure enough they did: Utah went 18 for 23 for the rest of the half, going from a 10-point deficit to a 12-point lead by halftime.
In one seven-minute stretch, Utah made nine straight from the field. In the middle of that run, Collette (15 points) was caught at the top of the key without a teammate to pass to. Kuzma shouted at him: "Just shoot it!"
So he did, making his first 3-pointer of the season on his first attempt.
"You gotta think the ball's going in," Collette said. "When it's not going in, it's not like you're going to stop shooting it, you know?"
Utah's offensive success complemented a stellar defensive performance. McLaughlin, USC's leading scorer, was held to 9 points on 3 for 9 shooting. Elijah Stewart, USC's second-leading scorer, was shut out.
The Utah zone took away driving lanes and had guards jumping out on the perimeter to make sure there wasn't an easy shot to be had. While sophomore Chemizie Metu had 17 points in the post, no other Trojan scored in double figures as Krystkowiak credited assistant Tommy Connor with a thorough scouting report.
Something dramatic would have to happen for Utah to repeat that feat against UCLA, which is averaging nearly 93 points per game. Krystkowiak called them among the most talented teams he's seen in the Pac-12 in his six years in Salt Lake City.
But what gave him comfort was the rising emotion of the crowd as his team's lead swelled a crowd that will be on his side this weekend.
"I know we've got one of the better home court advantages," he said. "That's an important part of it. We lean on them."
R Utes shoot 55 percent, including 9 for 17 on 3-pointers.
• Five Utes score in double digits, led by Devon Daniels with 17.
• Southern California shoots 36.7 percent, and only Chemizie Metu (17 points) scores in double figures for the Trojans.