I really can't help but feel a little frustrated. Sure, USC played tough and even held the lead for quite a bit in the second half, but whenever you lose any positives are certainly bittersweet. I do have to admit though it was awesome to see Demar break Shipp's ankles for an open jumper. And for the record that definitely looked like a block, not a goal tend, as the ball had not yet begun its descent. It was also great to see Taj absolutely work the bruin defenders under the hoop.
But let's revisit the frustration. Remember the four keys I mentioned earlier? I thought that turnovers, perimeter defense, free throws, and offensive rebounding were all things that could lead to an SC victory. Unfortunately, the Trojans did not particularly dominate in any of these facets. Admittedly, the team did a decent job of hanging on to the ball and had only eight turnovers for the game. On the flip side though, the overall lack of on the ball pressure led to a paltry six turnovers from ucla. Perimeter defens has to go down as a failure as ucla had many open looks from beyond the arc, evidenced especially by Dragovic's nine 3 point attempts. The Trojans also failed to get to the line more than the bruins, and hit fewer free throws exascerbated by Hackett's 50% from the line. Finally, USC outrebounded ucla 28-23, but failed to dominate on the offensive glass as both teams had 7 offensive rebounds apiece.
In all reality though, there were plenty of other issues than the four items I mentioned earlier. Taj got in early foul trouble, the bruins turned up the pressure on Demar and SC couldn't answer, and Lewis once again showed how completely erratic he can really be. The season is only half over, but the window of opportunity is closing fast for this team. If the Trojans want to make an impression than nothing would be better than a home sweep of the Arizona schools and for Leonard Washington to return. Its only three games into conference play, but it has quickly become sink or swim for USC. This week will really go along way in showing what kind of season we have on our hands, as USC will realistically have to go at least 10-5 from here out to have a shot at the NCAA tournament.
Fight On and BEAT the Sun Devils!