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A Much Better Effort

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86

USC

#24 USC at #13 Washington St.

vs.

88

Washington St.

I was extremely disappointed in last night's loss to WSU but at least we went down fighting unlike our loss to UW on Thursday. Don't get me wrong, we had our chances but we didn't pull them out, but I like the fire that I saw last night.

I'm not one to complain about officiating or "how the Pac 10 refs suck". If you think you can do a better job then get out on the court and just do it. But that charging call on Nick Young for his fifth foul was a bit suspect as it obviously changed the game dynamics as they played without Young for the 10 minutes of the game on the way to a tough loss. There was some sloppy play last night but nothing resembling the lack of fire from Thursday's game. Sometimes the other guys just out play you and there is nothing you can do about it.

As I mentioned last night Lodrick Stewart kept SC in the game with that 3-pointer with five second left in regulation. His 22 points were tops for SC last night.

From The LAT on playing without Young:

The No. 23 Trojans gamely collected themselves to force an overtime -- and then another -- on several last-second heroics by senior guard Lodrick Stewart, but ultimately they suffered an excruciating 88-86 loss to the 13th-ranked Cougars on Saturday night, while playing the final 10-plus minutes at Beasley Coliseum without their best player.

"It was hard for me to see my teammates out there because I couldn't really be a part of it," said Young, who was so distraught that he didn't participate in several team huddles during the overtimes. "I think I jinxed myself. [Friday] night I watched the movie 'Deja Vu' with Denzel Washington.... It ended up happening again."

Young: Dejected
Photo Credit: Kody Whiteaker - AP
This was a tough physical game and SC came to play and we got some good performances form others. Gabe Pruitt had 19 points with 11 of those in OT. Young also had 19 points before fouling out and Taj Gibson had 11 points. This was the first time SC lost consecutive games during the season but they played their hearts out in what I would call a very inspired performance. This was one of the best games in the Pac 10 all season as SC is coming to life after years of ho-hum basketball.

WSU played it right by playing a mismatch with their center Aron Baynes in the post as SC just doesn't have a complete player to play that position and Bennett exploited it with Baynes going 10-for-10 and scoring 25 points as the Cougars top scorer. Taylor Rochestie also had a great game coming off the bench to score 21 points with 9 of those in the 2nd overtime including his final six foul shots for the win. Kyle weaver had 18 points and Derrick Low had 14 points. The 88 points were the highest point total of the season for WSU as they definitely rebounded from their loss to UCLA on Thursday.

As for the Floyd/Bennett show who knows what it was all about. It looked like one of those pre-fight weigh-ins at the old Olympic Auditorium on Friday fight night. I thought that the usually calm and collected Bennett was going to blow a blood vessel on the sidelines, Floyd on the other hand is always high strung so I wasn't the least bit bothered by his intensity. Coaches can get fired up and their assistants and players will feed off that energy. These guys are professionals and in the end they understand that's part of the game, it's easy to get caught up in the moment and tempers will flare. I thought the police presence was a bit much but what are you going to do, these guys knew what was on the line and they were kicking and scratching for every single angle to win. I'm no the least bit bothered by it.

As for the Pac 10 Tournament, SC will square off against Stanford and win against them will put them in position to play WSU again. SC knows what needs to be done and they will practically be playing at home as the Staples center is just down the road. Look for me to post the Pac 10 tournament bracket early next week. Winning yesterday was important, as we would not have played until Friday as the #2 seed. That extra day is sometime all you need to start a great run.

As disappointed as I was last night about this loss I woke up this morning actually feeling better, not about the loss, but about how SC played in the face of adversity. That to me always builds character and while we came up short its hard to argue that didn't dig down deep to try and win this game. Some will call it a moral victory, I'm not one of those, but SC performed way above expectations this season and they really came together as a team. For those who make snide comments about "Gap Closing" nothing could be further from the truth, this isn't about you; it's about us closing the gap from our past, that's what we're working towards, making our own legacy not worrying about others' ancient history.