Los Angeles • As it turned out, USC didn’t need Dewayne Dedmon to beat Utah. The Trojans didn’t need their injured point guard, their second leading scorer or any special tricks, either.
All the Trojans had to do Saturday was show up on their home floor, and the Utes took care of the rest.
Once again listless and sloppy on the road, the Utes never contended, allowing the Trojans to win 62-45. The Trojans (6-16, 1-8) led from the opening basket and won their first Pac-12 game, while the Utes remain winless away from home.
“We had a rough start and they had a great start,” guard Chris Hines said, “and it was hard to come back.”
Hard? More like out of the question.
The Utes (5-16, 2-7) committed turnovers on three of their first four possessions, and trailed by double digits before they made their second basket.
Coach Larry Krystkowiak called the loss a “major setback” in a season that has produced but the occasional blip of progress. They are winless in 11 games away from the Huntsman Center and have not won on the road since Chris Hines hit a miracle 3-pointer on Feb. 19 to beat New Mexico. That was 12 games ago.
Saturday’s matchup, however, seemed a reasonable chance for the Utes to earn a dose of road confidence. Instead, it was just another loss.
“They all hurt,” Krystkowiak said. “You just hope for a better effort in games like this.”
USC entered the game with just six scholarship players healthy and available after Dedmon, a 7-foot NBA prospect, tore his MCL in a lopsided loss Thursday to Colorado. He was the fifth Trojan to suffer a season-ending injury, a list that includes point guard Jio Fontan and forward Aaron Fuller.
Throughout its calamitous season, USC had shot just 39.1 percent from the field. Against Utah, the Trojans shot 48 percent, including 7-of-17 on 3-pointers.
Dijon Farr led the Utes with 12 points, but like in Utah’s 76-49 loss to UCLA on Thursday, the Utes got marginal performances from nearly every starter.
Matched against a backup, center Jason Washburn finished with 10 points, yet all but two came in the second half. Chris Hines scored 10 points, but took 11 shots.
Guards Kareem Storey and Cedric Martin were both held to three points.
The Trojans, conversely, had one of their most balanced nights. Maurice Jones and Garrett Jackson each scored 14 points to lead the Trojans, while Greg Allen and Wesley each scored nine.
The Utes trailed 32-14 at halftime, after USC’s Byron Wesley beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer. Even ESPN, on its mobile phone application, said the game was over. It mistakenly listed the score as the final.
Krystkowiak was so dismayed by the first half showing that walk-ons Kyle Perkins and Alex Mortenson, as well as former walk-on Blake Wilkinson, started the second half.
The Utes fell behind by as many as 22 points, before trimming the lead to 12 with 2:15 remaining, the feeble final charge of a futile team.
“It was a mental thing, I think” Krystkowiak said. “And then all of the sudden it’s easy to throw the towel in because it’s harder than we’re able to tolerate.”