USC men’s basketball has no margin for error in pursuit of its conference title

One Saturday, all of USC’s room for mistakes has disappeared.

With the Trojan Horse losing 17th place with an 81-72 score to Arizona and UCLA’s 80-79 win over Arizona State, USC lost its singular control in first place in the Pac-12. Instead, the Trojans and the Bruins linked in 12-3.

Thus, USC has five games left, including the final against UCLA, with no margin for error if the Trojan Horse (18-4 overall) win their first regular-season title since 1985.

The tightrope walk begins as game week approaches three games, starting Monday against Oregon (14-4, 9-3).

“This is where mental toughness comes in,” said Andy Enfield, USC coach. “We haven’t talked to our team for a long time [Arizona] Game. They don’t need to hear the coaches get over the loss right now. ”

This was Team Trojan’s first loss in eight games, so no warning is needed. It’s the kind of defeat that can happen to any team, where the visiting team gets to play a classified opponent and achieves more energy and physicality than the host team expected.

But what the University of Southern California cannot afford is to allow this to happen again. The key to this is to make sure the Trojans don’t come out as slow as they did against the Wildcats.

It’s been a frequent topic at USC this year, but for the most part, the Trojans were good enough in the second half to erase a slow start. So Arizona’s loss should be a reminder to USC ahead of future inaugural councils.

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“Every game will be tough, no matter who you play, and we have to be there from the start in every game,” said the team’s top scorer, Evan Mobley. “And in the following games, we really get involved and hopefully the championship.”

The ducks arrive at the Galen Center on short notice and are scheduled to be held by Stanford in advance. Enfield said USC had already done a previous search for the Cardinal before the Pac-12 changed dates, so Oregon arrived in Los Angeles on Monday and Stanford in the first week of March.

“I’m not sure about the big plan and I haven’t asked,” Enfield said. “It is difficult to cancel a game on your schedule four days in advance, but we will make the most of it.”

Oregon enters the game on a five-game winning streak. The Ducks are a balanced attack with five players averaging more than 10 points per game, and goalkeeper Chris Duarte is skilled with the ball in his hands. He’s the type of player who gave the Trojans spells this year, like Okon’s James Bucknight in December or Arizona’s James Akengo on Saturday.

But for now at least, USC knows it has no room for error on Monday.

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