There isn’t a lot of good news for USC basketball right now. The Trojans let a huge opportunity slip through their fingers against UCLA, losing a game in which they led by two points with 20 seconds left. Utah and Arizona State won on Thursday, clearly putting USC fifth in the Pac-12 pecking order for NCAA Tournament teams, which is not a good place to be. Arizona beat Washington on Thursday. The top teams in the league are winning.
Yet, while the news is mostly bad, there’s one reason for USC to think it can still make a run in the Pac-12 this season, with two full months of basketball left before the conference tournament in Las Vegas.
Yes, Arizona did beat Washington, but the Wildcats missed each of their first 10 field goal attempts in the second half. They trailed by 12 points in the firste half. They did not play well, and they were fortunate to win by a 70-67 score at home against a not-very-good opponent which USC drilled by 13 in Seattle on December 30.
UCLA has won two Pac-12 games by two points or fewer. Arizona had this close shave against Washington and lost by 15 to Utah. UCLA and Arizona are winning, but are not dominating. They are vulnerable, and USC will have a chance to pick off a win against those two teams in the next few weeks. It won’t be easy, but it’s definitely attainable. UCLA and Arizona are not crushing opponents by 30 points and giving opponents no hope whatsoever. They’re leaving the door open.
USC just needs to step through it.