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USC basketball is motivated facing Oregon who 'stole the Pac-12 title'

By Alicia de Artola
Mar 23, 2021, 11:33 AM PDT
USC basketball forward Isaiah Mobley.
USC basketball forward Isaiah Mobley. | Andy Lyons/Getty Images
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USC basketball's Sweet 16 battle against Oregon comes with some extra motivation. As Isaiah Mobley put it: "They stole the Pac-12 championship from us."

There's a fine line every trash talker must walk. Push the right button and you can get under your opponent's skin. Push the wrong one and you can give them a competitive boost.

The best trash talkers back up everything they say with their own fire.

USC basketball needs to hope Isaiah Mobley is capable of that because he had some incendiary things to say about the Trojans Sweet 16 matchup with the Oregon Ducks.

Is that bulletin board material for Oregon? Probably.

It's also clearly a motivating factor for the Trojans.

USC basketball can get the last laugh over Oregon in the Sweet 16

Technically, the Ducks didn't steal the title. They had the best winning percentage even though USC played, and won, more games. The Trojans also beat Oregon on the court, 72-58. They did that without the elder Mobley too.

If Oregon hadn't taken the Pac-12 crown, that sizable victory might have given the Trojans a sense of complacency. Instead, they have every reason to play with a chip on their shoulder.

It was a chip they didn't seem to have when they lost to Colorado and Utah before the final weekend of Pac-12 play. Those performances are why they didn't win the conference in the regular season. And another loss to the Buffaloes in the conference tournament kept them from capturing silverware in Las Vegas.

Now, USC faces this reality: A win over Oregon means an Elite Eight appearance for the first time since 2001. It validates everything the Trojans have worked hard to accomplish this season. A loss, however, will give the Ducks even more bragging rights over USC. All those good feelings after a historic beatdown of Kansas will evaporate.

Mobley is coming off one of his best performances as a Trojan. He had 17 points in the win over the Jayhawks, hitting four triples while adding eight rebounds, four assists, and a block. If there were a time to talk, it's now.

He's got to bring the fire when it counts on Sunday too.

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