First of all, our guys played hard and battled all night, but with that being said, we still lost. I'm not going to beat a dead animal though, RG3 had a great post-game right up in the previous post, so my focus in on the things that Coach Floyd and his staff can improve upon. I'm hoping we see these assholes again at Staples Center for the Pac-10 Tournament, but we still have 6 more regular season games to play, let's not get carried away. I do however, want to go back to the 3 keys to the game, that I posted prior to the game. Well, USC failed in all three of them so let's re-visit those items because the Trojans definitely need to correct them as they close out conference play and head into the post season.
(1) Davon Jefferson -- I mentioned that USC needed to feed the ball inside early and often, and we did that. However, it was Taj Gibson carrying us by himself. Jefferson picked up 2 early fouls that took him right out of the game. He sat the final 8 minutes of the 1st half and never caught fire in the 2nd half. Keith Wilkinson filled in admirably for him, and Taj played his heart out, but USC just isn't the same team with Jefferson watching on the bench. Maybe this will help Jefferson learn how to play with foul trouble and how to avoid silly fouls.
(2) Slow the Game Down -- This was a very big problem for the Trojans last night. O.J. Mayo seemed to be in a hurry all night and made several rushed decisions that led to his 10 turnovers. Point guard Angelo Johnson looked timid out there, maybe the game was moving too fast for him. USC needs to play more under control, especially without their leader and floor general Daniel Hackett. Coach Floyd didn't rest any of our 3 guards last night, he needs to take advantage of the media timeouts and get these guys some rest. Ryan Wetherell is a scrappy player and can buy our team a minute or two of game time. I'd like to see Coach Floyd use him a little about against Oregon's small lineup.
(3) Defensive Rebounding -- Taj Gibson and O.J. Mayo finished the game with 12 and 9 rebounds, respectively. However, fucla managed to grab 19 offensive rebounds. That, coupled with USC's 22 turnovers is why they were able to overcome their poor shooting night (34%). The Trojans were getting defensive stops, but when the opponent attempts 21 more field goals, and make more free throws than we attempted, a loss should not be too surprising. USC is playing excellent defense, now they just have to put it together by winning the defensive glass.
There were some things from this game that Coach Floyd and his staff can build on as we get closer and closer to March. USC is (15-9 overall, 6-6 in the Pac-10) with 6 games remaining. The Trojans close out the current 3 game homestand by hosting Oregon on Thursday and Oregon State on Saturday, then visit the Arizona schools the following week, before closing out the regular season at home against California and Stanford. I believe 20 wins is more than enough to get USC into the Big Dance, so that means winning 4 more regular season games and advancing to the semifinal of the Pac-10 Tournament. This team is not built for winning 3 games on 3 consecutive nights, so the Trojans need to take care of business in the regular season and not put themselves in a position where they have to win the Pac-10 Tourney to get in. Our run towards March Madness is in full swing and continues Thursday against the visiting Ducks. Let's pack the Galen Center again, our guys will need it against a very explosive Oregon team that is also fighting for a berth in the NCAA Tournament.