January 18, 2014 by Russell Simon
By Russell Simon
It’s been a rough 2014 for the USC Trojans. Andy Enfield’s crew is 0-5 in the new year, and is still without a conference win after falling 83-62 to Colorado today to end a rocky road trip. What’s even more troubling then the 0-5 conference record is how the Trojans have lost these Pac-12 games. They’ve lost each game by at least 18 points, including a 34-point loss to UCLA. The Trojans are the only team in the Pac-12 without a conference win after Washington State beat Utah 49-46 last Sunday for their first win. The Trojans have barely started Pac-12 play, and the road ahead looks extremely daunting.
So when can we expect the Trojans to get a Pac-12 win? The Trojans’ upcoming schedule is unrelenting, as the Trojans face some of the best teams in the Pac-12. After today’s game, the Trojans have a two-game home stand against 13-4 Cal and 11-5 Stanford, followed by a road trip to battle both Oregon squads and a home game against UCLA. Cal is one of the best teams in the Pac-12 and I have a hard time seeing how Byron Wesley will be able to contain yet another strong, athletic guard in Justin Cobbs. Stanford looks like a better opportunity for the Trojans to get a win in comparison, but even that game will be extremely tough. The Cardinal battled to a close loss against Cal and went up to Eugene and beat No. 17 Oregon 82-80.
The Trojans’ road woes have followed them from the opening tip, as the Trojans lost to Utah State by 13 to begin their season. In trying to find a Pac-12 win, it’s best to look at games at the Galen Center, where the Trojans are 7-2. Plus, they’ve played their best half of the season at home, the first half of the game against the number one team in the country in Arizona. The Wildcats led just 34-31 at halftime in front of a packed Galen Center crowd and they led 48-43 with nine minutes to play in that game. Eighteen turnovers ultimately killed the Trojans’ chances at scoring a major upset, but the game exemplified how the Trojans are a better team at home.
With that success in mind, there is one game that stands out as the Trojans’ best chance to get a Pac-12 win: A home game against Oregon State, the 11th-best team in the Pac-12. The Beavers are a dismal 1-4 on the road and struggle on the glass, where they are ranked 245th in the country. This makes them a good matchup for a Trojans team that has struggled rebounding the ball even with 7-foot-2 Omar Oraby in the frontcourt. Oraby is only averaging 6.5 rebounds a game, so the Oregon State game looks like it will be a great chance for him to establish himself in the low post offensively while also potentially registering double-digit rebounds. Still, the Beavers have played well in some of their Pac-12 games, including a win over Stanford, and ultimately will require USC’s most consistent effort of the season to ensure they don’t end the conference slate without a win.