Gharib: USC’s Vegas Improvement Can’t Stay in Vegas

Posted on March 17, 2021


  By Anthony Gharib, SportsPac12

You know what they say—what happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas. And that’s exactly what I hope will not happen for USC.

Sure, the performances weren’t up to par and they went to double overtime with Utah to win the game. But Utah coming in was playing hot, and just ask Colorado how it is being a huge favorite over a Pac-12 team that’s hitting its stride.

The Colorado loss, on the other hand, was heartbreaking. The Trojans had an excellent chance of winning the game. One box-out by Tahj Eaddy and this column might be about USC rightfully earning the four seed in March Madness.

Colorado also shot lights out from the three—51% to be exact. In their next game against Oregon State, 31% from the arc. It seems like their best shooting nights are against the Trojans, but that’s a conversation for another day.

Nevertheless, the trip to Vegas was not entirely a forgetful one.

E. Mobley

The outstanding freshman forward Evan Mobley played out of his mind. Through two games, he averaged 26 points per game, nine rebounds per game, and five blocks per game, all on roughly 60% shooting.

I was intrigued to see how Mobley would play when the lights were the brightest, and he’s shown up like only a No. 2 NBA draft pick can.

For the most part, other Trojans followed suit.

In the Utah game, a blistering five players were in double-figures for USC. Granted some played over 40 minutes, but it’s a stat worth mentioning.

Isaiah Mobley and Isaiah White had solid outings against the Utes after struggling to close the season. White notched 14 points in 26 minutes before being fouled out. And Isaiah Mobley missed only one free throw—a huge improvement for someone who shoots under 50% from the line.

Drew Peterson, Tahj Eaddy and Ethan Anderson joined the double-digit group, as well. For Anderson, this was the first time he reached double digits in scoring since that explosion against UCLA in early February.

Evan Mobley | Rick Scuteri\Associated Press

It’s positives all around, which is what I plan on writing about for most of this column.

However, I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss the catastrophe that was the first half against Colorado.

USC was up 6-3, then they fell down 20-6.

It was a horrendous offensive display that made me wonder—will they ever score the ball?

They did of course, but it was a struggle in the first half. Colorado seemed like they were going to blow the doors off this Trojan team, hitting their threes and flying down the court.

Chevez Goodwin doing his best Ron Artest impression on Buffaloes guard McKinley Wright IV was not even enough to stop the bleeding. It seemed like the night was going to be a long one for USC.

But just like they’ve done before, they fought back and it had a similar feel to the UCLA comeback.

Eaddy

Instead of Drew Peterson emerging late, it was Tahj Eaddy, who had been kept in check for almost the entire game. He propelled them back to tie the game, though ultimately failing to box out Colorado’s Dshawn Schwartz.

It could have been an epic comeback, but what it showed was that USC won’t go down easily, no matter who is in front of them.

I’ve said it multiple times, this team does not quit. They’ve got seniors playing their last games of college ball and a once-in-a-generation freshman trying to prove his draft stock.

The more games the better for this team, and with a No. 6 seed in March Madness, it’s only a matter of time until they shake up some brackets.




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