After a spirited comeback fell just short against the Arizona Wildcats on Sunday, the Trojans are now 2-5 on the road in PAC-12 play. Their only win that has come outside the city of Los Angeles was against bottom dwellers Washington State in early January.
The Trojans have ascended, rather quickly, toward the top of the PAC-12 standings after two consecutive last place finishes. The main reason for that is the Trojan's record at home. USC has set a school record, starting the season 14-0. However, that same level has play has yet to be found away from home. Here's a few of the biggest takeaways from USC's disappointing trip to the desert.
What Happened To The Defense
In the final two games of their three game homestand, USC held the Washington Huskies and UCLA Bruins to 36 and 34 percent shooting respectively. USC gives up a lot of points but that is a by product of their offensive system. The Trojans are actually second in the conference in scoring defense. Teams are shooting just 40 percent against the Trojans. Unfortunately that defense failed to make the trip to Arizona. The Wildcats shot 50 percent from the field and scored 86 points on the Trojans.
Freshman Struggle On The Road
Bennie Boatwright had the worst game of his young career against the Arizona State Sun Devils. The freshman phenom fouled out of the game in just 14 minutes of action. He finished with zero points on 0-4 shooting and one rebound. Boatwright rebounded against Arizona as he led the Trojans in scoring and rebounding with 18 points and seven rebounds. Fellow Freshman Chimezi Metu had a rough trip overall. The first year big man had just eight points and four rebounds combined in the two games.
Against the Sun Devils, USC did a pretty good job defensively, holding Arizona State to 41 percent shooting from the field. The Trojans shot the ball over 50 percent for the entire game, yet lost by seven points. The biggest reason for the loss was the Trojan's 17 turnovers. The Sun Devils attempted seven more shots and 17 more free-throws than the Trojans.
USC was able to resolve the turnover issues against the Wildcats but allowed Arizona to shoot over 50 percent from the field. The Trojans only turned the ball over eight times, compared to 11 turnovers for the Wildcats. Unfortunately for the Trojans, Arizona was making every shot they attempted. Even though USC attempted 15 more shots, the Wildcats were able to come away with an eight point victory.
The Trojans return home tonight to take on the Colorado Buffaloes. Both teams are part of a four way tie for second place in the PAC-12. Luckily for USC, four of their last six games to end the season are at home, with their only away games being at Stanford and Cal. If USC is able to go 5-1 or 6-0 to end the season, they have a good chance of competing for the PAC-12 regular season championship. As it stands USC is just one game behind Arizona and Washington for first place.