The 4th-ranked Arizona Wildcats defeated USC Basketball 90-77 Thursday night at the McKale center in Tucson. USC once again fought hard and played the Wildcats tough, but the Arizona offense was just too much for USC to maintain their first half lead.
This marks the third loss in a row for the USC Trojans. While these three losses have come during a particularly difficult stretch of the USC basketball schedule with the Oregon Ducks, UCLA Bruins, and Arizona Wildcats all ranked in the top 6 nationally. A three game losing streak towards the end of the season, however, is still costly to a team looking for better seeding in the NCAA tournament as well as jockeying for position in the Conference standings ahead of the Pac-12 Conference championship tournament.
The Trojans have three winnable games remaining on their regular season schedule. USC basketball needs these wins if for no other reason than to get a little momentum back before the start of the Conference tournament. USC also drops to 6th place in the conference standings a half game back from number 5 Utah and 1 game back of number 4 cal.
Before Thursday night’s loss the bracketology experts put USC basketball around a 9 or 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Losing on the road to a top 5 team likely will not drop those projections substantially. The final 3 opponents on the USC basketball schedule are the Arizona State Sun Devils, Washington State Cougars, and Washington Huskies. All three of those teams have losing records this season. Those three teams are also sitting almost dead last in the Pac-12 Conference standings save for Oregon State. USC could really use these wins to finish the regular season strong.
USC vs. Arizona highlights and recaps are below:
“Bennie Boatwright scored 23 points and Chimezie Metu had 15 for the Trojans (22-7, 8-7), who lost their third in a row - to the top three teams in the conference (Arizona, Oregon and UCLA).
The Wildcats closed the first half with a 12-2 run and were up by as many as 16 points in the second half.”
“After remaining within striking distance for the majority of the contest, USC had no answer for No. 4 Arizona’s big scoring run midway through the second half. The Wildcats hit seven consecutive shots in the last three minutes of the final period to blow the game wide open.”
“Even though the Trojans stayed in the game early, the Wildcats pulled away much like the Bruins did, though this time USC didn’t let it get quite so out of hand. Much like they did in January, USC fought back against Arizona to keep things close, but ran out of time in the end.”
“USC shot 51 percent but 3-pointers and turnovers were the difference. Arizona had 23 points off the Trojans' 14 turnovers to USC's nine points off eight turnovers.
"We played well enough offensively," Trojans coach Andy Enfield said, "but we could not stop them in the second half. They had it rolling on offense.""
“The Wildcats, down by as many as nine points early, finished the first half on the 12-2 run, all of the points coming on 3-pointers - two by Simmons and two by Trier.
After the Trojans cut the lead to 51-41, Arizona outscored USC 20-6 over a 4-minute span to go up 71-55 on Dusan Ristic's inside basket with 9:36 to play. Another 7-1 spurt, punctuated by Jackson-Cartwright's 3, gave Arizona a 78-62 lead with 5:03 left”
**We could use some help covering USC Basketball.**
“USC was able to take a nine-point lead with 6:11 in the first half after De’Anthony Melton threw down a powerful dunk in a cleared lane, putting the Trojans up 28-19.
[ . . .]
The Trojans had 26 points in the paint in the first half, and wound up shooting 57 percent the period.”
It was a tough loss but now USC basketball is moving on to Arizona State on Sunday February 26, 3pm pst on the Pac-12 Network and streaming on Pac-12 Live