BERKELEY — Nick Rakocevic had a career-high 19 points and seven rebounds, and USC beat Cal 80-62 on Thursday night.
Bennie Boatwright added 15 points and seven rebounds, Jordan Usher scored 14 points and Jordan McLaughlin had six points and eight assists for the Trojans (11-5, 2-1 Pac-12). USC has won five of six.
Rakocevic — starting while leading scorer Chimezie Metu sat out the first half for disciplinary reasons — led the way while going against Cal’s 7-foot-1 shot-blocker Kingsley Okoroh much of the night. The 6-11 Rakocevic shot 8 of 11 from the field and got the majority of his points down low, but showed some versatility with a pair of mid-range jumpers.
That was big with Metu sitting out the first half.
The junior forward was held out by coach Andy Enfield after Metu was called for a flagrant 2 foul against Washington State last week when he hit Carter Skaggs in the groin. Metu also lost his role as team captain and had to write an apology to the Cougars.
It hardly mattered against Cal.
The Trojans went on a 19-2 run in the first half to go up by double figures and led by as many as 30 points.
The Golden Bears, who came back from 17 down in the second half to beat Stanford in the conference opener last week, couldn’t keep up.
Cal (7-8, 1-1) was held to a season-low 20 first-half points, shot 39.7 percent overall and needed a late scoring flurry to avoid having more turnovers than field goals for the third time this season.
Justice Sueing had 15 points and nine rebounds, while Marcus Lee added 10 and eight, for Cal.
USC: The Trojans have been on quite a roll since losing three straight games earlier in the season. Although this one wasn’t close, it was a good test with Metu not available in the first half. Metu scored six points in 11 minutes.
Cal: Okoroh started because coach Wyking Jones wanted more size on the floor after going with a smaller lineup. Okoroh started the first six games of the season but had come off the bench the previous eight.
USC: Plays at Stanford on Sunday night.
Cal: Hosts UCLA on Saturday afternoon.