While it certainly wasn't a pretty sight to witness, it was a victory nonetheless, as the Trojans defeated the visiting Arizona Wildcats 56-50 to improve their overall record to 9-4 and log their seventh straight victory. Earning a win in their first conference game of the season, the Trojans also have an excellent chance to start Pac-10 play 2-0, as their Saturday opponent, Arizona State, lost to 6-7 UCLA earlier in the day.
Against the ‘Cats, the Trojans were led by Marcus Johnson and Dwight Lewis, who each totaled fourteen points on the afternoon. However, Johnson was far more effective, as he used just eight shot attempts to reach his total, while it took Lewis 15 attempts to do the same. Despite their solid totals, it was not a great night for the Trojans offensively, as they scored just 56 points after putting up 27 points on the scoreboard as early as the 6:44 mark in the 1st half. As a unit, they went on to shoot just 11.1% from beyond the arc and post an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3:7 - not exactly reminiscent of their strong offensive performance against UNLV in the finals of the Diamond Head Classic last week.
But the Trojans were still solid defensively, as they held Arizona to just 50 points on 30% shooting, making them the twelfth consecutive team USC has held to under 60 points. Additionally, the Trojans were able to block eight shots and record seven steals. So all in all, it was a solid defensive performance, but it was certainly a shaky outing on the offensive end. Luckily, Arizona is still young enough where they were unable to take advantage of 'SC's numerous miscues.
Tomorrow, I'll post a more in-depth look at today's conference opener, so in the meanwhile, feel free to share some of your thoughts on the game as well as vote on today's player of the game. (note: I hope to come up with a cooler name for "player of the game" as the season progresses. If you have any suggestions, don't hesitate to post them below)
Player of the Game Candidates
- Marcus Johnson
- Dwight Lewis
- Nikola Vucevic