Trojans come up short against Colorado

Trojans come up short against Colorado

first_imgThe USC men’s basketball team began its last regular season road trip Thursday with a 70-66 loss to No. 18 Colorado in Boulder, Colo. The loss prevented USC from avenging its 21-point Feb. 1 defeat to the Buffaloes, dropping the Trojans’ conference record to 8-6.  The loss mirrored the last minute effort that came up short against No. 24 Arizona nearly two weeks ago during an 85-80 loss. For a team on the bubble of making the NCAA Tournament, Thursday’s loss dealt a critical blow to the Trojans’ hopes of making the Big Dance. The game came down to the last minute and 20 seconds when USC cut Colorado’s lead to 3. Unfortunately for the Trojans, they couldn’t produce off their next possession. Senior guard Daniel Utomi traveled while about to take a 3-pointer during the game’s final seconds, giving the Buffaloes the ball and the game. Colorado hit a free throw during its last possession and escaped with the 4-point win.  Senior guard Jonah Mathews offered an admirable performance Thursday, shooting 63.6 % and scoring 17 points. (James Wolfe | Daily Trojan) From the start of the second half, it was clear Colorado had made the necessary adjustments and was ready to perform on offense. In the first three minutes of the half, the Buffaloes scored 12 points without missing a shot, overcoming the first half deficit and establishing a lead USC would never take back.  Much of Colorado’s comeback was predicated on exceptional ball movement. This left USC’s man-to-man defense scrambling and allowed for open looks both beyond the arc and in the paint against USC’s top defenders in freshman forward Onyeka Okongwu and senior forward Nick Rakocevic. Colorado finished the game with 16 assists in comparison to USC’s nine. USC’s offense still dominated in the paint and shot over 50% in the second half, but this couldn’t make up for Colorado’s lethal 3-point shooting. The Buffaloes dwarfed the Trojans with 24 points from beyond the arc compared to just 6 from USC. Okongwu’s offensive production kept USC hanging around. The star freshman was coming off of two missed games due to a concussion but didn’t stray much from his season scoring average by putting up 21 points.  Unlike Okongwu, USC’s bench was not up to the challenge Thursday. The Trojans’ subs shot 2-of-17 from the field. The only bench player to come off the bench and score was sophomore guard Elijah Weaver, who chipped in with 4 points.  Colorado shot 23% from the field through the game’s first 10 minutes. This improved to 34.5% by the half while USC’s offense began to lose its rhythm, leading to frantic shots and turnovers that reduced its 14-point lead to just 3 by halftime. “We’re happy to have [Okongwu] back,” head coach Andy Enfield said. “I thought he played a really good game tonight. Unfortunately, when it’s crunch time, we need all five guys to not make mental mistakes.” Early in the game, the Trojans looked like they could limit the Buffaloes’ offense, forcing seven turnovers in the first 10 minutes and establishing a 14-point advantage. Colorado fell into a five minute scoring drought but was revived by junior guard Tyler Bey. Bey’s drives to the rim repeatedly drew fouls and chipped away at USC’s lead.  The Trojans travel to Salt Lake City to face the Utah Utes Sunday. Tip-off is at 3 p.m.last_img

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