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76-83: Walking on a Thin Line

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If the first time around at the Galen Center was a bit of a roller coaster then I don't really know how to describe this latest game. Basically the team ran through the whole gamut of emotions and despite a very solid performance they came out on the wrong side of the win loss column. So what can we take from good play in a losing effort? Frankly I have some very mixed opinions on this game, but we'll get to that a little later.

I'm not going to talk really at all about how Arizona basically hit all of their shots in the beginning and how USC dug themselves out of a big hole to take a decent lead as you'll be able to find that kind of thing in just about every other recap. What I really want to talk about a little bit is the fatigue factor. The fact of the matter is that players should be able to play fo an entire game, but if that is going to be SC's strategy then Floyd is going to have to live with and work around the consequences. If Hackett is going to relied upon to play the point, defend the opposing team's best player for most of the game, and score in bunches on offense then there are going to be mistakes down the stretch.

More after the jump...

Obviously I wouldn't be making ominous statements if they didn't actually portend something, and some late game mistakes were ultimately what cost the USC the W in the end. At one point the Trojans were up 74-70 and whether by missed shot or turnover, I honestly can't recall, the ball had switched to Arizona possesion and Nic Wise was pressing up court. No worries though as Hackett, Taj Gibson, and Leonard Washington were all in front to breakup the fast break... except they didn't. In an apparent lapse of judgement or communication breakdown Leonard Washington swung over to the wing and kind of sealed Taj off whil Hackett had already set up a defensive position in the lane to the right Wise to stop any trailers. Basically this left the paint wide open and in a crucial late game situation the team had just allowed the only offensive player down court to basically walk the ball to the basket. On the ensuing possesion Daniel Hackett got caught in a half court trap with Wise was again forcing a turnover and taking the ball to the hoop for an easy bucket.

And although this only tied things up, in my eyes it was the momentum changer. SC had looked so composed and in control in the second half that it was tough to see them breakdown when only three more minutes of good play was needed. At the same time though, the team could have easily given up when they were down by nearly twenty points with about 9 minutes left in the first half but they toughened up and climbed back within three at the break. Is it just me, or are these two things kind of inconsistent with eachother? On one hand we have a team that pulled together and overcame some major adversity to retake control of the game, but on the other hand things kind of came undone late. I guess that brings us full circle back to the fatigue factor as I don't really know what other explanation would suffice.

Anyways, I want to wrap things up on a positive note with some nice stats. In the loss Dwight Lewis racked up 21 points aided mostly by shooting 6 of 9 on three pointers, and Demar Derozan kept SC in the game early by scoring 13 of the team's first 15 points while also providing 7 offensive rebounds. Daniel Hackett also deserves a big time shoutout with probably the best overall stat line of 20 points on 57% shooting to go with 6 rebounds and 4 assists. In all honesty, if USC plays this well on a team level on Sunday then mark the game against ASU as a win. And trust me, SC needs this next game, otherwise the season might turn into a rehash of night of the living dead. Floyd has nearly three full days to coach the players up and prep them for this game, so the onus is on him as the team will likely be without Marcus Johnson and Kid Euro once again.

FIGHT ON and BEAT THE SUN DEVILS!