Final Score: #22 USC 46, #24 Stanford 52
Current Record: 9-5 (0-2)
Current Ranking: #22 (AP)
Next Up: Washington State (Thurs)
Wow, what an UGLY game. It really felt like a race to see which team would lose first. SC couldn't establish any rhythm on offense and Stanford repeatedly shot themselves in the foot with careless turnovers. Both teams shot under 25% in the 2nd half and Stanford won the game despite shooting 27% for the game! This was just one of those games where both teams walked away not wanting to look back.
The story of the contest was SC getting absolutely dominated down low on both ends. Stanford had 20 offensive rebounds and forced almost no second chance points on the defensive end. The game had a lot of similarities to last season's block-fest: SC players couldn't drive to the basket, there was a lot of standing around on the perimeter forcing tough one-on-one plays, both teams were sloppy with the ball, etc. Taj was the only player that showed some ability to score with consistency. O.J. had a little streak of points late in the 1st half but once again fell to the Kobe syndrome of trying to play superman in the heat of the moment; he also made about 4 careless passes for turnovers including a momentum shifting circus drive to the basket that led to a transition bucket with less than 5 seconds to play in the half.
What really concerned me about the offense was the lack of movement away from the ball. I know Coach Floyd wanted to spread the court to draw the Lopez brothers out of the key, but when a player committed towards the basket, there was no support by cuts or movement towards passing lanes. It seemed like we were at our best when we ran a few ISO plays late in the 1st half through O.J. and moved our bigs to the weak side; it allowed O.J. to operate moving towards the basket instead of fading away from it; but for most of the game O.J. was only able to get quality shots in motion coming off screens. As Mike Montgomery mentioned in the game, it's important to maintain the scheme, but you have to realize that you have a scorer at hand. Right now, I'm not sure if we're using O.J.'s talent properly.
So what can you take away from this game? I think the only thing you can take away is that this team is young and the rough patch was bound to come. It just so happened that we started the conference on the road on one of the tougher trips we'll take all year. I wouldn't conclude anything based on the past two games; I'm confident we'll rebound and hit our stride. I still believe a 3rd or 4th place finish in the conference is feasible. Our next game is against Washington State and I really believe we have a chance to pull off the upset. At the very least, we need a split against the Washington schools.