West Brom included Peter Odemwingie in their matchday 18 for the first time since his proposed move to QPR fell through amid acrimony last month, and he was predictably booed by the home fans when his name was announced over the public tannoy before kick-off and when he made his late entrance onto the pitch. The woodwork came to West Brom’s rescue after 25 minutes when Steven Fletcher cut in from the left and saw his low shot beat the dive of Ben Foster and hit the far post. West Brom responded and Youssouf Mulumbu headed wide from close range after attacking a probing Liam Ridgewell centre. However, Lukaku put the Baggies ahead from the penalty spot for his 11th goal of the season after Craig Gardner was adjudged to have handled a cross from Ridgewell. Sunderland started the second half on the offensive and Sessegnon had a shot cleared off the line by Mulumbu following a deep corner from Sebastian Larsson. But Lukaku continued to trouble the Sunderland defence his perseverance forced Titus Bramble into a mis-timed back pass and he then charged down Mignolet’s clearance which flew into the net. Sunderland hit back and in the 80th minute Sessegnon curled a shot past Foster and over the head of Ridgewell on the line to reduce the arrears. The on-loan Chelsea striker reached 12 goals for the season – all of which have come in the Barclays Premier League – firstly from the penalty spot and then when charging down a clearance from Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. The Black Cats set up a tense finish through Stephane Sessegnon’s reply but Albion held on to keep up their challenge for a European place. Romelu Lukaku’s two goals lifted West Brom to the 40-point mark for the campaign as they overcame Sunderland 2-1 to register their first home win for two months. Press Association
The Trojans’ recent success has been supported by an even balance of offensive production — at least five players have dropped double-digits in the last three games. On any given night, forwards junior Nick Rakocevic and senior Bennie Boatwright can drop over 20 points. But the team has struggled on the road, going 0-4 outside of Galen Center so far this season. Notching two wins on the road would give the team a shot at the top of the conference and the confidence to continue to travel as the Trojans enter the heart of the season. The Huskies have already notched five double-digit wins in conference play, led by freshman guard Jaylen Nowell, who averages 17 points per game. The teams face off on Wednesday night, offering the Trojans an opportunity to mar the Huskies’ perfect conference record and take the top conference spot. Junior forward Nick Rakocevic hangs onto the rim after dunking in the game against Arizona at the Galen Center last Thursday. (Tucker Judkins/Daily Trojan) Hot off a trio of dominant conference victories, the USC men’s basketball team hits the road this week to take on Washington and Washington State. The team vaulted the conference rankings over the weekend, moving quickly to the No. 2 slot early in a season of well-balanced Pac-12 play. In a conference without a single Top 25-ranked team, parity comes to the Trojans’ advantage when vying for an NCAA championship bid. Franks is the team leader in points, averaging 21.2 per game this season, while freshman forward CJ Elleby also adds 16.1 points per game. The rest of the roster averages under double-digits apiece, hefting most of the offensive burdens on the pair of forwards. For the Trojans, the game is a must-win, both to continue the team’s momentum and to separate itself from the bottom tier of the conference. The team will then head to Pullman to face Washington State on Saturday. While their in-state rivals have dominated the Pac-12, the Cougars have had far less luck, notching only one win in conference play and going 8-12 overall so far this season. The team’s lone win came in an 82-59 victory over Cal, the winless bottom team in the league, with junior forward Robert Franks ripping off 24 points to lead the win. This weekend, the Trojans have a chance to secure their first road win of the season and knock off the top-ranked team in the conference — the Huskies are undefeated in Pac-12 play and 16-4 overall. Washington has been decisive in their victories, most recently stomping Oregon State 79-69 and Oregon 61-56, and they have yet to drop a loss at home. Washington will host USC on Wednesday at 8 p.m.