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USC over Cal 76-73

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#25 USC at Cal




Dwight Lewis
Photo: US Presswire via CBS SportsLine
Man!! What the heck was that!

Now, I can only discuss this game as I saw it on ESPN game cast. It looked like SC was playing a decent game at the end of the first half being up 7 points. Coming out in the second half it looked like SC really turned the jets build up a 17 point lead at one point then you could see Cal start to chip it away. Cal was without F Eric Vierneisal but had some great efforts from G Jerome Randle, (12 points) G Omar Wilkes (14 points) and F Ryan Anderson (19 points) as they came all the way back erasing that 17 point lead.

SC opened up the 2nd half with going on a 13-4 run that was sparked by two 3-pointers by Gabe Pruitt (10 points). This was a much different Pruitt than the one we saw against Stanford on Thursday. Nick Young (19 points) also had a 3-pointer in that run. But Cal wouldn't go away and they were playing without G Ayinde Ubaka (9 points) who was out with cramps. Cal went on a 16-5 run with two 3-pointers by Wilkes and another by G/F Theo Robinson (7 points) that tied it at 71 with a little over 2:00 to play.

This team showed some grit though, with Daniel Hackett (8 points) scoring on a lay-up with 16 seconds left in the game, he also scored 4 points in the last 1:03. Hackett dug down deep and really cemented his place on this team. Things happen for a reason and while we are still saddened at the death of Ryan Francis his loss charted a new path for Hackett. Taken further, Pruitt's academic issues also helped Hackett by thrusting him to the forefront sooner and nothing is better than game experience. He kept Ubaka in check with a fine defensive effort when he was on the floor. He is clearly going to do some special things during his time at SC. Loderic Stewart led all scorers with 21 points going 7-for-9 in the first half, making four 3-pointers and sparking an 11-0 run. Nick Young picked up the slack in the 2nd half scoring 19 of his 21 points and leading SC on a 16-6 run to start the 2nd half.

Of course its not all wine and roses.

Had SC lost this game after having been up 17 points it would have not only been a devastating loss but it would have come on the heels of the drubbing we took against Stanford and I'm not necessarily sure that would have been good for this teams psyche. I know some are tired of hearing it but this team is still young and we have a long way to go. Case in point was Taj Gibson's technical foul assessed for shoving Taylor Harrison. There is no need for that type of behavior as it only moves further from the goal not closer. If he gets ejected SC does not win this game. With the news of OJ Mayo's ejection on Friday its clear that Tim Floyd needs to drop the hammer when it comes to these sorts of incidents. There is no upside, period.

Regardless, as disappointing as that Situation is this team here and now is coming together. from the Daily News:

USC likely will lose its No.25 ranking in the Associated Press poll Monday because of the 65-50 loss at Stanford on Thursday, but the Trojans (16-6, 6-3) are right where they want to be after their first trip through the conference.

"We're back on track," USC guard Loderick Stewart said. "If we had lost this game, it would have probably killed our confidence heading into next week."

They now know how to put one away. Now they need to work their defense, as that seems to be a bit of an issue in the last two games. We can't let these teams back into the game once we have built up a substantial lead, we need to keep the "boot on the throat" so-to-speak and put these games away. A win like this will ultimately serve this team well as it builds its character. But I'm sure watching that lead disappear took years off of some peoples life.