USC hired coach Andy Enfield away from Florida Gulf Coast three years ago to rebuild its basketball program and make the Trojans relevant on the hardwood on the other side of the country in the Pac-12 Conference.
The Trojans earned their most memorable and possibly most significant win in that rebuilding process to date on Saturday, upsetting the conference standardbearer No. 7 Arizona in four overtimes 103-101.
Enfield oversaw an improbable Florida Gulf Coast run to the Sweet 16 in his final year coaching that program and his team earned the nickname dunk city in the process for its high-flying and entertaining style of play. The Trojans looked eerily similar at times Saturday driving through a porous Arizona defense time and time again to smash the ball through the rim.
When the Trojans weren't getting into the paint to score or all the way to the rim, sophomore guard Elijah Stewart was knocking down big 3-point shots that seemed to give his team and the Galen Center crowd rejuvenated energy. Steart led all scorers in the game with 27 points, including the game-winning free throws in the final minute of the fourth overtime. And he did coming off the bench.
Four of USC's five starters scored in double figures.
It was the longest game in Arizona history and it probably felt that way to Wildcats coach Sean Miller, who has been unhappy with his team's defensive intensity and must now be even more frustrated. Arizona allowed USC to shoot 64 percent in the first half before coming alive in the second half and forcing overtime.
The Wildcats had center Caleb Tarczewski in the starting lineup for the first time since late November and Tarczewski came through with 16 points and 12 rebounds. He also provided two clutch tip-ins at the end of regulation and again at the end of the first overtime that helped give Arizona a chance.
Alonzo Trier scored 25 to lead Arizona, including 19 points coming after halftime. Gabe York scored 21 but committed four of the Wildcats 19 turnovers and nearly gave the ball away on the final possession but regouped and managed to get the ball to Kadeem Allen with two seconds left. Allen's shot barely made it to the iron and USC celebrated a classic win.
The turnovers weren't the only problem for Arizona. The Wildcats didn't get to the foul line nearly as often as they are accustomed to. In 60 minutes of basketball, they attempted only 16 free throws.
The Trojans are now 14-1 and 3-1 in the Pac-12 and might be ranked in the polls in the coming week. The Enfield hiring hasn't always looked like a great decision over the past three years, but it sure is looking good now.
— USC Men's Basketball (@USC_Hoops) January 10, 2016
- - - - - - -