#19 USC at Arizona
You may have noticed that it's been a while since USC beat Arizona at the McKale Center. The LA Daily News had this context:
Or, in basketball sense, Michael Jordan had yet to win an NBA Championship or scoring title, Tim Floyd was an assistant at Texas El-Paso dreaming of his first head-coaching job and Abdoulaye N'diaye was the only current Trojan player alive.
A lot has changed since Jan. 17, 1985, and USC showed Thursday that the state of Trojans basketball has earned a spot on that list.
The LA Times put it this way:
Sam Clancy, Pacific 10 Conference player of the year, went 0 for 4.
Then there was Nick Young, Gabe Pruitt and Lodrick Stewart, who came into the McKale Center on Thursday night and broke through at the raucous arena where so many distinguished Trojans before them had failed, lifting No. 22 USC to a historic 80-75 victory over the No. 19 Wildcats.
So it was a big deal historically, but the team showed that they were ready to play on the day against an Arizona team that often had the lead, at one point having the score at 19 - 10. However, there was a solid combination of offense and defense by the Trojans. Lodrick Stewart hit a three pointer that triggered a 10 - 0 run by SC to get back in the game.
USC took the lead for the final time with another shot from Stewart that put USC up 74 - 73. Young scored on a jump shot plus a foul to get to 77, then Pruitt stole the ball from Mustafa Shakur, picked up a foul, and got two points off that. Add one final free throw point from Nick Young, and game Trojans.
This means that USC has beaten 6 ranked teams this season. The last time that happened was in the 2001 - 2002 season which just happened to also be the last time that USC participated in the NCAA tournament. Hopes are high that this might be the tipping point for SC to get into the tournament this time around.
Next up for the Trojans: Arizona State at Tempe, Sunday 2/18.