by Chris Camello (@chris_camello)
LOS ANGELES – To say last weekend was disappointing would have been an understatement for USC. While several players were battling a virus, the Trojans came up short in Colorado and Utah and quickly found themselves on the tournament bubble.
However, the Trojans (20-9, 9-7) were able to overcome last week’s struggles, injuries, and illnesses with a 57-48 win over Arizona (19-9, 9-6). It was a significant win against the Wildcats, who are seventh in the college basketball NET rankings.
While this wasn’t the prettiest offensive game for either team, USC came out with the right energy, intensity, and most importantly urgency.
For senior guard Jonah Mathews, he’s not taking this opportunity for granted as this his last chance to play in the NCAA tourney.
“It’s do or die, I don’t have another year,” Mathews said after he scored a team-high 14 points. “Every rebound, every shot, everything matters. It’s crunch time before March Madness.”
To play with that increased sense of urgency and make that mad dash to the finish line is critical, especially for a bubble team like the Trojans who could really use every win at this point.
“They (NCAA) take teams that win. If we win, we’re in,” Mathews said. “We can’t afford to drop any game. When you win, your resume goes up. That’s what we’re doing.”
Head coach Andy Enfield was proud of how well his team overcame recent issues and displayed resiliency.
“It was an extremely urgent game,” Enfield said. “To go through what we did the last two weeks, I’m really proud of our guys. They stuck together. That was a huge game.”
With only two games left before the Pac-12 tourney, USC could control their own destiny by finishing the season on a high note and potentially securing the ticket to the big dance.