USC faces long odds to win final Pac-12 Tournament, but Andy Enfield explains his optimism

The No. 9 seed USC Trojans have very long odds to cut down the nets in Las Vegas at the Pac-12 Tournament. That is, of course, the only way the Men of Troy and coach Andy Enfield can punch a ticket to the NCAA Tournament.

It’s been a roller-coaster ride for the Trojans this year. Andy Enfield brought in the number three recruiting class in the country, led by overall top recruit Isaiah Collier and top-30 recruit Bronny James. With the return of First-Team All-Pac-12 guard Boogie Ellis, the Trojans were picked second, behind Arizona, in the preseason Pac-12 media poll.

It took some time for both freshmen to get caught up to game speed in college, but when they did, the team appeared to be living up to the preseason hype. The team swept Stanford and Cal early in the Pac-12 season, but then the injury bug hit the Trojans.

“We had our two best players get hurt at the same time and our starting center, and we lost six games in a row and couldn’t score 70 points,” explained Enfield after the 78-65 win over No. 5 Arizona Saturday night.

The good news is that the team is as healthy as it has been since going into that sweep of Stanford and Cal. Enfield quickly added, “At Washington Boogie and Isaiah had 48 points between them. Since they’ve been back, I think everybody has elevated their game. I thought this was the team we were going to have in mid-January because we beat Cal and Stanford and scored 93 and 84. I didn’t anticipate the run was going to be losses instead of wins. So unfortunately, that really hurt our season because it’s hard to lose six in a row without your two leading scorers who happen to be your two lead guards. Josh being out with his sickness losing 15 pounds hurt us as well. Unfortunately, we had to go through some injuries.”

The Trojans’ victory over the Wildcats was not a fluke. USC has won five of its last seven and four of its last five games. During that stretch the Trojans have wins over the teams they will or could meet in the Pac-12 Tournament this week, Washington (whom the Trojans do play) and Arizona (whom USC could play if it beats UW). They also defeated UCLA and lost in overtime to Washington State. They are entering tournament time as a team nobody wants to face in their bracket.

Enfield expects his guys to be ready. “We just have to have a few good days of practicing with some confidence, I think our guys should be confident. The two games we lost in these last seven games we lost double overtime, where we gave the game away by missing free throws and layups down the stretch. Then we lost a one possession game up in Pullman where we led most of the game, so hopefully we’ve learned from some of our mistakes in the last three or four minutes of games. We have to go into Vegas confident, and also understand that the margin of error is very small, and we know that because we’ve been on the wrong side of a few games this year.”

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Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire