When No. 10 USC and Georgia Tech clash Saturday as part of the Jerry Colangelo Classic at Phoenix, it will be a matchup of two teams trending in opposite directions.
The Trojans will enter as one of just seven remaining undefeated teams in Division I with an 11-0 record on the season. USC is also ranked in the top 10 in for the first time since the 2017-18 season and just the second time since the 1991-92 season.
Georgia Tech (5-4, 0-1 ACC) on the other hand is reeling after a promising start to the campaign. The Yellow Jackets started out 5-1 but are now in the middle of a three-game losing streak off the back of losses to Wisconsin, North Carolina and LSU in Atlanta.
USC's perfect season was in jeopardy on Wednesday at the hands of UC Irvine. The Trojans fell behind by double digits in the first half and trailed into the second half before finally grinding out a 66-61 victory. USC was just 3-of-13 (23.1 percent) shooting 3-pointers and missed nine free throws, but Chevez Goodwin and Isaiah Mobley combined for 45 points to help keep the team undefeated.
"It was a good win for us under the circumstances being down by eight at halftime," USC head coach Andy Enfield said. "Irvine played a terrific game, especially in the first half. We didn't, but our second half defense, our players did a great job. We're very proud of them, and hopefully they can see when we defend at that level, we're a pretty good basketball team."
While USC was turning an early deficit around in its last game, Georgia Tech lost a big lead in its most recent game. The Yellow Jackets built a 15-point lead against LSU before completely collapsing in the second half and losing 69-53.
There were many culprits for the huge scoring swing, but everything led back to turnovers. Georgia Tech turned the ball over 24 times against the Tigers, with five different players turning the ball over at least three times. The Yellow Jackets had more possessions end in turnovers than made field goals, and shot just 3 of 15 (20 percent) from 3-point range in a dismal performance on offense.
"It's on me because we've had an issue this year with turnovers," Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner said. "We just didn't get it done, and it's been a constant theme of us turning it over. I've got to help our guys be better about not turning it over. That falls on the head coach, not any player, so that strictly falls on me."
Offensive rebounding figures to be one key area of this game. The Trojans used their height advantage to grab 15 offensive rebounds against UC Irvine and have excelled on the glass all season, while Georgia Tech is not a team with a lot of size and allowed 16 offensive rebounds against LSU.
--Field Level Media