Suddenly, USC Basketball Is Against the Wall

USC men’s basketball has no more room for error in conference title quest

Adam Grosbard (OC Register)  —  In one Saturday, all of USC’s room for error disappeared.

With the 17th-ranked Trojans’ 81-72 loss to Arizona and UCLA’s 80-79 win over Arizona State, USC lost its solo grip on first place in the Pac-12. Instead, the Trojans and Bruins are tied at 12-3.

So USC has five games left to play, including a finale against UCLA, with no margin left for missteps if the Trojans (18-4 overall) are going to win their first regular-season conference title since 1985.

The tightrope walk begins with this three-game week coming up, starting Monday against Oregon (14-4, 9-3).

When: 6 p.m. PT, Monday, Feb. 22

Where: Galen Center

TV/Radio: Fox Sports One/AM 790

“We didn’t talk to our team for very long after the [Arizona] game,” said Trojan head coach Andy Enfield. “They don’t need to hear coaches go over a loss right now.”

It was the Trojans’ first defeat in eight games, so there is no need to pull any alarms. It’s the type of loss that can happen to any team, where a road team comes to play a ranked opponent and arrives with more energy and physicality than the home team anticipated.

What USC can’t afford, though, is to let this happen again. And the key to that is making sure that the Trojans don’t come out sluggish like they did against the Wildcats.

It’s been a recurring theme for USC this year, but for the most part the Trojans have been good enough in second halves to erase slow starts. So the Arizona loss should serve as a reminder for USC before future opening tips.

“Every game is going to be a tough game no matter who you’re playing and we just got to bring it from the start every single game,” leading scorer Evan Mobley said. “And the next few games we really got to lock in and hopefully secure the championship.”

The Ducks are coming to the Galen Center on short notice, taking a date previously held by Stanford. Enfield said USC already had an advance scout done for the Cardinal before the Pac-12 switched the dates so Oregon came to Los Angeles on Monday and Stanford in the first week of March.

“I’m not sure what the grand plan is and I haven’t asked,” Enfield said. “It’s difficult to have a game taken off your schedule four days before but we’re going to make the most of it.”

Oregon enters the game on a five-game winning streak. The Ducks are a balanced offense with five players averaging over 10 points per game, and a guard in Chris Duarte who is clever with the ball in his hands. He’s the type of player that has given the Trojans fits this year, like UConn’s James Bouknight in December or Arizona’s James Akinjo on Saturday.

But at least now, USC knows it has no room for error on Monday.

ocregister.com

__________

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Golden Trojan
Diamond Member
Golden Trojan (@golden-trojan)
February 24, 2021 10:49 am

Anyone else find it kinda amusing that basketball coaches sit or stand quietly with their mask up then pull it down to yell out to the players?🙄

HOF19
Noble Member
HOF19 (@hof19)
February 23, 2021 8:46 pm

I keep missing the gentleman’s name …But some employee (faculty I think) of USC has been on Golf Channel 6-7 times today giving updates on the Tiger Woods situation .

HOF19
Noble Member
HOF19 (@hof19)
February 23, 2021 8:47 pm
Reply to  HOF19

Seems to know a fair amount of what things where on Tigers agenda theses last few weeks .

Steveg
Mt Rushmore
Steveg (@steveg)
February 24, 2021 7:00 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

It is a proven fact that Helton will always be on the hot seat as a head coach, no matter where he is coaching. He simply does not have what it takes to be a good HC, and should for the rest of his career stick to something like a position coach. Ed Orgeron is a great motivator and leader. When he surrounds himself with good assistants he can challenge the upper echelon teams. I do believe his greatest talent lies in being a top position coach and recruiter.

Terrific Tommy
Diamond Member
Terrific Tommy (@terrific-tommy)
February 24, 2021 8:56 am
Reply to  Steveg

You’re correct Steve, Ed is a good recruiter — but an even better evaluator of young potential. For example, take BKU — Ed was all over him when he saw him play as a sophomore in high school. IMO, that’s what made him great for USC in populated southern California with its huge/diverse demographics.

Now, Tee Martin was also a great recruiter, but coach he was just barely acceptable IMHO.

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
February 23, 2021 6:50 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I watched the game and it was not the same team that played AZ. The team that played AZ was soft, got pushed around, and was never in the game mentally. This team was totally different. And, OR is a better team than AZ. The team I saw last night is a well-coached, tough, and talented. Having hammered Enfield, I now have to give him credit. He got his team ready to play. Now they play a very good team in CO and on the road.

usc50
Active Member
usc50 (@usc50)
February 23, 2021 11:49 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

The difference was the whole team came ready to play instead of just Evan and Eaddy.
Eaddy carried the team in the first half.
In the game Peterson, White, and Ethan played a much better game. Especially Peterson.
Even Max and Goodwin had good games.
When the whole team gets involved it makes the team much better.

ATL D.D.S.
Diamond Member
ATL D.D.S. (@atl-d-d-s)
February 23, 2021 5:35 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

How can he be so smart at making money, but so bad at picking university presidents?

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
February 23, 2021 6:53 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

There seems to be a lot of very rich people in So. Cal. It is hard to imagine that people can have that much money and that little sense.

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
February 23, 2021 6:21 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

All power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Never were truer words uttered.

Steveg
Mt Rushmore
Steveg (@steveg)
February 22, 2021 7:48 am

“We didn’t talk to our team for very long after the [Arizona] game,” said Trojan head coach Andy Enfield. “They don’t need to hear coaches go over a loss right now.”Sounds to me like USC cannot hire a HC that is willing to face reality and get in the players faces for poor performances. It must be the new mantra of USC sports, “Don’t want to hurt anyones feelings”. Seems to me Bohn needs to have a serious discussion with Andy, perhaps a hotseat situation will enable him to become an actual coach, but it could already be to late… Read more »

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
February 22, 2021 6:53 am

My way of thinking, the horse already left the barn on Saturday night with the lousy game against AZ. If OR does the same, might as well close the barn.

Terrific Tommy
Diamond Member
Terrific Tommy (@terrific-tommy)
February 22, 2021 8:14 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I cannot decide what’s worse — losing to Arizona in the style that we did or being tied with Cal Jr. Help me out here Allen — and keep me away from sharp objects! 😠

ATL D.D.S.
Diamond Member
ATL D.D.S. (@atl-d-d-s)
February 23, 2021 5:39 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

The ultimate line signifying frustration with Fate, knowing you are just along for the ride and you can’t do anything about it. One of the all-time memorables from any movie dialogue.