The Wildcats attempted to come back, but Porter hit two more threes to eliminate any chance of a momentum shift. The daunting score deficit remained with the Trojans ahead in the final 10 minutes of the second half, 53-33. Rakocevic continued to play the mismatch to his advantage, making 4 points in the opening minutes of the second half. Senior guard Shaqquan Aaron’s presence was felt as well. He grabbed two offensive rebounds and finished a short-range shot with strong displays of hustle. The Trojans continued to dominate the game four minutes into the second half, with Boatwright completing a double-double on an uncontested three. The Trojans took a commanding 16-7 lead, forcing Arizona to regroup and use a timeout. Afterward, USC brought in Porter, who had missed the team’s previous two games due to a suspension. He hit a 3-pointer at the first opportunity, clearly energized to be back. Porter would go on to miss two dunks and commit two fouls, although his presence was welcomed. USC had offensive contributions throughout the night from many different sources, including star senior forward and captain Bennie Boatwright. Rakocevic continued to capitalize on the size mismatch that was presented to him and racked up 12 points on 6-7 shooting. With six minutes left in the first half, the Trojans held a commanding 29-15 lead. Arizona’s offensive struggles continued as USC played lockdown defense. The Wildcats were unable to penetrate and continued to shoot threes that wouldn’t fall. USC took a commanding 36-19 lead at the end of the first half after junior guard Derryck Thornton hit a buzzer-beating 3-point shot. The remainder of the second half was highlighted by excellent shooting and stellar defense by the Trojans. USC held Arizona to a mere 27.8 percent shooting overall and 20 percent 3-point shooting. “It all starts with defense,” Rakocevic said. “If we get some stops, that allows us to create offensively.” Junior forward Nick Rakocevic led the offensive charge in the opening minutes with 6 straight points. He demonstrated effective movement of the ball by cutting past Arizona senior center Ryan Luther for uncontested layups. Even when guarded, Rakocevic used his long wingspan to lay it in at the block. USC men’s basketball defeated Arizona 80-57 at home Thursday. The victory was highlighted by overpowering first-half play and the return of freshman guard Kevin Porter Jr. “[Porter] came in and played within the flow of the offense,” head coach Andy Enfield said. “He fit in perfectly.” “We played 40 minutes of zone,” Enfield said. “Our players were rotating, helping and sliding out to the 3-point line to challenge shots.” Junior guard Jonah Mathews made a strong effort on the defensive side with a steal and subsequent 3-point play early on. In Arizona’s next run, he deflected a Wildcat pass to force a scoreless possession. Arizona would continue to turn the ball over and give USC more opportunities to extend their lead. Freshman guard Elijah Weaver runs the court and looks for his teammates against Arizona Jan. 24 at the Galen Center. (Tucker Judkins/Daily Trojan) Rakocevic ended the game with an efficient double-double of 27 points and 12 rebounds. Porter impressed in his return as well, scoring 14 points. As a whole, the team contributed to a 50 percent shooting percentage from beyond the arc. The Trojans will look to carry their strong play into another home game against Arizona State this Saturday at 5 p.m.
Source: Sports Illustrated The Raptors are one win away from the NBA Finals after a 105–99 victory over the Bucks in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday, taking a 3–2 lead in the topsy-turvy series.Toronto has now won three straight—handing Milwaukee its first three-game losing streak of the season.The tenor of the matchup has completely changed since Game 3, turning into a slowed-down slugfest, and the Raptors have taken advantage of the Bucks’ struggles in the halfcourt to take the series lead.Kawhi Leonard was the best player on the floor in Game 5, scoring 35 points on 11-of-25 shooting, including 5-of-8 from three and 8-of-9 from the free throw line.Leonard has most benefited from the slower pace over the last three games. He’s getting looks he wants through isolations or forced switches, and managing to get himself to the charity stripe.As the game tightened in the fourth, Leonard did his best work, scoring 15 in the final frame. His play is rivaling Stephen Curry for best in the world at this current moment, and Leonard has been the most impactful player in the conference finals on both sides of the ball.Kawhi’s success stood in contrast to Giannis Antetokounmpo, who hasn’t looked like himself in this series. The Greek Freak scored 24 points on 9-of-18 shooting in Game 5, but that’s a far cry from his regular-season production.Giannis averaged nearly 28 points per game on close to 58% shooting before the postseason. In the conference finals, he’s averaging 23 points on 45.6% shooting. Toronto stuck Kawhi on Antetokounmpo starting in Game 3, and it’s led to some serious struggles for the MVP favorite.Giannis is clearly having issues being effective in the frontcourt, and his teammates aren’t bailing him out on kick-out passes.Milwaukee had a subpar game from beyond the arc Thursday, hitting 10-of-31 attempts, missing some good looks.Though Eric Bledsoe finally stepped up with a 20-point performance, Khris Middleton scored only six points on 2-of-9 shooting, and he and Brook Lopez combined to hit only one of their six three-point attempts.On the other side of the ball, the Raptors seemingly couldn’t miss from outside. Toronto shot nearly 42% from three, with a notable explosion from Fred VanVleet, who hit seven shots from deep. In a low-possession game, the Raptors’ huge night from three clearly swung the contest. Toronto outscored Milwaukee by 24 from downtown, and also hit 12 more free throws.The Raptors’ excellence in those areas offset their pitiful performance from inside, where they converted only 31.7% of their two-point attempts. Toronto shot only 36.9% from the field overall, but the Bucks were burned by their opponent’s three-point prowess.The Raptors deserve credit for how they’ve turned this series around. After trying to run with Milwaukee in the first two games, Toronto has committed to playing at its own pace over the last three.Even when the Bucks raced out to a 14-point lead early in the first quarter, the Raptors methodically chipped away as opposed to pushing the ball and trying to play fast. The patience paid off, as the Bucks couldn’t score as effectively when their transition and semi-transition opportunities went away.