Friday, February 29, 2008

USC beats down Arizona

This picture (from ESPN) sums up the entire game for the Wildcats, whose top two scorers (freshman guard Jerryd Bayless and sophomore wing man Chase Budinger) were held to a combined 15 points, as the Trojans smothered them defensively all night. USC Coach Tim Floyd and his staff put together a great game-plan, keeping the Wildcats off balance by often playing that unconventional "Triangle and 2" defense, which achieved its purpose of taking Arizona's two big stars out of the game and forcing one of the other Wildcats to beat them. The win all but guarantees an NCAA Tournament bid for the Trojans, who improved their record to (18-9 overall, 9-6 Pac-10), and adds to their impresive list of Pac-10 road victories which already included fucla and Oregon. USC was able to frustrate Jerryd Bayless, who sat out with foul trouble early in the game, and held him to one of his worst games of his young career. O.J. Mayo turned in his 3rd straight outstanding performance since the fucla game, playing all 40 minutes and finishing with 21 points, 6 assists, and 3 rebounds. ESPN's Jay Bilas noted the maturation and development of Mayo as a player and his in-game decision making. Mayo read his screens well and was not hesitant to take the shot or drop it down to either Taj Gibson (14 points) or Davon Jefferson (15 points, 14 rebounds). Daniel Hackett returned from his back injury and played 24 quality minutes, including some clutch play down the stretch. This was a big win for the Trojans, and can now clinch a top 4 finish in the Pac-10 with a win on Saturday at Arizona State.

Tomorrow's game is apparently at noon (Pacific Time), so hopefully the early start won't throw off the team and will provide ample time for them to heal and rest up. ASU (17-10, 7-8) is two games back of the Trojans in Pac-10 play and is reeling after getting crushed by fucla for the 2nd time this season on Thursday 70-49. The Sun Devils are on that NCAA Bubble and need to win a few more games to solidify their spot. Let's get that desert sweep guys.

Fight On! Beat the Devils!

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