USC Basketball has bounced back big time after dropping that first game to Florida Gulf Coast, with three straight wins as soon as that one was over. They now enter the Battle 4 Atlantis on Wednesday against BYU at 3-1. That's an even better mark than BYU's 2-1 (all statistics and records in this article are as of November 19th).
And look--USC has proven that they could easily come away with a win against the Cougars. While USC's offense hasn't been an offense that has Trojan fans particularly comfortable right now, it's at least been a heck of a lot better than BYU's. While SC is just 163rd in the nation with 74.8 points per game, meet BYU's offense which is 281st in the country with only 67 points scored per game.
SC's been better on defense too, giving up 65.8 points per game compared to BYU's 67.3 mark. While being a better basketball team than BYU is not the goal, SC is in position to notch a fourth straight win over them, which means a lot. That's because all USC needs to do right now with Vince Iwuchukwu out is win, no matter who it's against and no matter how pretty it is.
As long as USC stacks W's in their non-conference schedule, they've got a chance to be in the top quarter of the PAC-12 if Iwuchukwu ends up coming back. And for what it's worth, Head Coach Andy Enfield has been on the more optimistic side of things when it comes to his return.
Theoretically he has to be, but nothing was optimistic when the cardiac arrest first happened. Any positivity means something when it comes to Iwuchukwu's health.
For now, USC Basketball's blueprint to winning needs to be all about the guards.
With USC Basketball's two-guard system in place, it's going to be up to the Trojans to protect the basketball AND facilitate from the backcourt against the Cougars. They should be able to, as their assist/turnover ratio is better than BYU's at 1.1 compared to 0.52 (347th in the country).
It needs to be an area of emphasis for star SC guards Drew Peterson and Boogie Ellis: Protect the basketball, and capitalize on the turnovers that BYU is sure to commit. BYU is 340th in the nation with 18.7 turnovers per game. With Ellis averaging 2.3 steals per game, this is a major opportunity for him.
If he can turn strong defense into strong offense, he'll be in great shape. That's how it's gone this season, as he's not only played great D but also scored 15.8 points per game. He's shooting 50% from three...Again--if Ellis, Kobe Johnson (1.8 steals per game), and Peterson (one steal per game) find SC extra possessions, they're going to score a lot of points.
And every win is massive without Iwuchukwu right now. Just gaining confidence within this team on a game-to-game basis is going to be huge. They have a head coach who's proven that he can develop at an elite level.
If this Trojans squad gets hot, and starts believing, they can be a problem. That's going to be their job in non-conference play. If they get that done, they have a legit shot to surprise a lot of people by the season's end.