USC men’s basketball trying to right the ship to start March
The Trojans have two games to return to form before the Pac-12 tourney
Adam Grosbard (OC Register) — Wednesday’s game against Stanford still has implications for the USC men’s basketball team’s quest for a regular-season Pac-12 title. But the Trojans must have a simpler goal than that in the final two games before the conference tournament.
The offense, the defense, and the general mojo the team had going for it the first three months of the season prior to this recent 1-3 stretch have vanished. The Trojans need to get it back on course before tournament games begin.
Of course, USC (19-6, 13-5 in Pac-12) can and should still aim for its first regular-season conference title in 36 years, though the Trojans need some help to get there.
If USC beats Stanford (14-11, 10-9) on Wednesday and UCLA on Saturday, it would still need Oregon to lose one of its final games (Wednesday vs. UCLA and Saturday at Oregon State) for the Trojans to come out as conference champs and the No. 1 seed at the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas next week.
But that’s out of the Trojans’ control for the time being. What USC can control, though, is how it plays this week.
The Trojans were practically unrecognizable in last week’s losses to Colorado and Utah. The Buffs and Utes both shot at least 47% from the field against the typically-staunch USC defense, and they combined to make 21 3-pointers in the two games.
And on the offensive end, the Trojans couldn’t crack 40% shooting in either game. But perhaps the most damning stat from the road trip was that over the two games, USC had just 15 assists on 45 made baskets, compared to 25 turnovers.
“We try to give these guys some freedom to play and with that freedom comes the expectation to share the ball like we have all season,” head coach Andy Enfield said. “Some of those decisions were just driving in the lane and jumping and flipping the ball up.”
So it’s on USC to get back on track against a Stanford team that has lost three in a row. The Cardinal’s best player, forward Oscar da Silva, has missed the last two games with a lower body injury and is considered day-to-day.
But regardless if he plays or not, now is the time for USC to get back on track, because there aren’t many opportunities left.
“They have to play at the level they’ve played all season,” Enfield said of his players. “And if they do that, we’ll be fine.”
Stanford at USC
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Galen Center
TV/Radio: Fox Sports One/AM 790
TrojanDailyBlog members — Always feel free to add information or topics to the TDB which don’t necessarily pertain to any particular moderator post or member comment.