Pac-12 title race: USC basketball can't afford a slump after loss to Arizona

USC basketball coach Andy Enfield.
USC basketball coach Andy Enfield. / John McCoy/Getty Images

USC basketball lost their first game in seven on Saturday against Arizona. They have to rebound quickly to avoid losing their lead in the Pac-12 title race.

The Trojans were outmuscled in an 81-72 loss to the Wildcats at the Galen Center. The time to lick wounds is minimal. On Monday they will battle Oregon in a game that will set the tone for the final stretch of the regular season.

A loss to Arizona complicates life for USC basketball

With a 12-3 record in conference, USC still sits atop the Pac-12. However, the only thing separating them from UCLA is a tiebreaker. A loss to the Ducks, who have won five in a row, would give the Bruins the edge going into their Thursday matchup at Utah.

Pac-12 Standings (as of Feb. 21)
1. USC, 12-3
1. UCLA, 12-3
3. Oregon, 9-3
4. Colorado, 11-6
5. Stanford, 10-7
6. Arizona, 9-8
7. Oregon State, 7-9
8. Washington State, 7-10
9. Utah, 6-9
10. Arizona State, 4-8
11. Washington, 4-13
12. Cal, 3-15

On the plus side, UCLA and USC face the same challenge this coming weekend: playing Utah and Colorado on the road. Both Los Angeles schools need to hold serve, but it will be far from easy with the Buffalos clinging to the possibility of a challenge for the crown as well. They're 11-6 in the conference, 17-7 overall.

The trouble is the Trojans will take on Stanford before their season-ending class with the Bruins. The tightrope they're walking is treacherous. One slip and the first conference championship for the program since 1985 could be gone.

USC's final games:
- vs. Oregon
- at Colorado
- at Utah
- vs. Stanford
- at UCLA

UCLA's final games:
- at Utah
- at Colorado
- vs. USC

From now until Mar. 6, USC has to keep pace with UCLA. Since their showdown will finish the campaign, the key is to make sure that meeting means something. That means beating Oregon on Monday, matching UCLA's results against the Mountain schools, then taking care of Stanford in early March.

BUY OR SELL. The USC Defensive Line. dark