Bumped - P
Can a picture say a thousand words?
What a disappointment after the UCR game. The fact of the matter is that yes, USC's lack of depth hurt them and the outside shooting just was not there like on Tuesday night, but SC still should have won this game. And actually, early in the second half the Trojans had a fairly comfortable 10 point lead, and it appeared as though everything was going to go according to script. Some poor coaching decisions combined with strong shooting by LMU though quickly closed the gap and ultimately lead to the loss.
I have to give Loyola-Marymount some credit. Thy got open looks outside the arc in part thanks to a lax defese and they hit their threes for a staggering 6 for 11 completion rate. Besides that though our players didn't help things by turning the ball over on consecutive possessions late in the game while also going only 5-9 on free throw attempts in the second half.
Let's rewind a bit though because like I said SC had a double digit lead early in the second half. In fact things did not really go sour until the midway point of the half, which was really strange. With over eleven minutes left Loyola had already committed six fouls. With a strong lead and foul trouble it just makes sense to either work the ball inside or attack the basket as the Tigers would be forced to try to make defensive plays and likely commit fouls. And at that point fouls meant free throws for the Trojans. Free throws also have the added benefit of giving the depleted roster more rest, slowing the game down, and reducing fast break opportunities.
But instead SC tried to respond to LMU's shooting with jumpers of their own, except their shots just weren't falling and it was easy to see that the players were getting exhausted on both sides of the court. Honestly, in spite of these mistakes USC would have won if they had the entire roster available, but knowing full going into this game that this would not be the case they had to play smarter. Its also worth noting that the team seemed a bit deflated after Kasey Cunningham went down with a possible knee injury, and he was really bringing it on both ends of the court.
So enough with the negative, let's talk some positives. Kid Euro was absolutely great for the second game in a row. He had game highs with 19 points on 8 of 13 shooting and 11 rebounds, and was second on the team with three assists and two steals. Marcus Simmons also had an efficient 11 points (66% shooting) while playing his signature D while performing at a much higher level on the offensive side of the court than anything he showed last year. In fact, for now it seems like Simmons is the only guard we have who is comfortable attacking and slashing towards the basket. Dwight Lewis on the other hand had a rough night, but thats to be expected from time to time and its encouraging to see that he won't have to be the teams only offensive option as the season moves along.
All in all I'd say don't get too worked up about this loss. Sure its frustrating and USC should have found a way to win, but they will be almost different team against Coppin State with the likely return of Alex Stepheson (injury) and Marcus Johnson (eligibility). If they lose that one with a full 8 man rotation, then its time to start worrying!