USC (19-7, 8-5) lived by their "Fight On" moniker withstanding a 15-point second half deficit to eventually secure a 79-72 victory over conference rival Colorado (19-8, 8-6) Wednesday, Feb. 17.
The Trojans found themselves in unfamiliar territory against the Buffaloes throughout most of this physical affair. USC had never trailed at home heading into halftime all season, yet they were down 37-29 by the end of the first half.
For the majority of the game, the Buffaloes were scoring in the paint almost at will and were absolutely dominating the Trojans on the offensive glass with an overwhelming 12-3 offensive rebound differential.
"When you're down 15 with 8:59 left in the game and to come back and win a game like this, it's a big confidence booster and it shows you're never out of a game," said USC head coach Andy Enfield.
It wasn't until USC moved out of man defense and switched to a 2-3 zone in the second half which minimized mismatches in the paint for the Trojans and finally allowed the team opportunities on offensive without giving up seemingly endless second-chance points.
Sophomore guard Jordan McLaughlin led the way for USC as he filled the stat box with 25 points, five assists and four rebounds. Alongside McLaughlin was the catalyst for the second half comeback junior guard Julian Jacobs finishing with 17 points and five assists.
With the victory, USC is 15-0 at the Galen Center and is now in a two-way tie for third in the Pac-12 rankings alongside Colorado and Utah. The Pac-12 Tournament now gains more intrigue as the Trojans have the potential to claim the third spot outright with a victory over Utah Sunday, Feb. 21 at the Galen Center.
With only five games left on the schedule and a pivotal final game against #16 Oregon, the Trojans for the first time this season, can solidify their status as a legitimate contender in not just the Pac-12 Tournament, but more importantlyâthe NCAA Tournament.