USC basketball’s 89-75 win over UCLA at Pauley Pavilion proves the surprisingly-strong Trojans are legitimate.
Starting the season 11-2 with a weaker schedule than some Pac-12 counterparts, USC was barely a blip on the radar. After all, the Trojans aren’t known for their dominant basketball prowess. That title belongs to the other team in LA.
Enter head coach Andy Enfield’s kids, and all of a sudden USC finds itself near the top of the Pac-12, and among the nation’s best teams.
The Trojans entered the Pac-12 portion of the schedule with a solid road win over Washington State. They followed that up by blowing a 22-point lead to a surprisingly good (perhaps lucky) Washington team. Washington is currently the only team separating USC from first place in the conference.
Then USC came home to beat Arizona State and best No. 7 Arizona in a four-overtime battle of attrition, putting the Trojans at an undefeated 11-0 at Galen Center and adding a positive stamp on Enfield’s program.
As the schedulers would have it, USC would play Arizona and UCLA back to back, with the Trojans traveling to Pauley Pavilion, where the Bruins were on a nine-game home winning streak. Westwood has always been a tough place and at times has been an absolute house of horrors, so no one was taking anything for granted.
The Trojans went toe-to-toe with the Bruins early, but would take command of the game before half time. Unlike the previous Pac-12 games they’ve played, the Trojans would hold their lead thanks in part to a break out performance by freshman Chimezie Metu and his career-high 21 points.
This was the Trojans’ first win over UCLA in over three years.
That’s the thing about this team. Someone is stepping up every night because they play as a team. Enfield finally has his players playing his system. And he will in all likelihood be looking at an extension and a March Madness tournament invite because of it.
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The Trojans are off to their best start since 1992-93 at 15-3 overall and they’re 4-1 in the Pac 12. Enfield is taking it one game at a time.
“This was obviously an important win for us,” Enfield said. “We try to take every game and put equal importance on it.”
At the very least, USC will be ranked next week before heading to Oregon and finishing up their Pac-12 northwest trips. It will be their first AP Top 25 ranking since 2008.
It’s time to start paying attention Trojan nation. This team is special.