The USC Men’s Basketball team came into this season with a chip on their shoulder. The Trojans hoped to make it to their third consecutive NCAA Tournament last season after finishing with an overall record of 24-12, and claiming second place in the Pac-12 standings. The Trojans failed to earn the berth however, eventually being eliminated in the second round of the NIT tournament.
Unfortunately, this season has not started out the way the Trojans were hoping for. After starting the season 2-2, the Men of Troy were able to string together three straight wins against Missouri State, CSU Bakersfield, and Long Beach State, only to have then lose in their previous two games against No.5 Nevada and TCU. In fact, in their game against TCU, the Trojans had their worst loss under the Andy Enfield era.
There is no time for the Trojans to relax, as their next match-up will be against the red-hot Oklahoma Sooners. This Sooners team is not like the one the Trojans went up against last year, as the Sooners are currently 8-1, with their only loss against No. 25 Wisconsin. Other than that, the Sooners are blowing out teams, including their most recent win against the Wichita State WuShocks.
Much of the Sooners success can be attributed to senior Christian James who has been averaging 19.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game so far this season. James is a big reason why the WuShocks are in the position they are in. Playing in every game so far, the 6-foot-4 guard has a .522 field goal percentage and a whopping .818 free throw percentage. Furthermore, five Sooners are averaging almost 10 points a game as well. If the Trojans wish to win this game, they will have to prevent James and his fellow teammates from getting wide open lanes in the paint.
On the other hand, the Trojans bring in two tall forwards in Nick Rakocevic and Bennie Boatwright. Apart from last game’s outlier, Rakocevic and Boatwright are the reasons why the Trojans have been able to keep games close this season. Both players have their own styles; Rakocevic has zero three pointers compared to Boatwright’s 18, while Rakocevic has 101 rebounds compared to Boatwright’s 39.
The schedule is not going to get any easier for the Trojans once they start conference play, as they will be up against high caliber teams such as Arizona State and Colorado. The Men of Troy are going to need strong performances all around if they have any chance of beating the Sooners, who are among the teams in conversation for a national championship. Additionally, head coach Andy Enfield hopes to make a statement win for his 100th career win as the Trojans head coach.