Men’s basketball returns home to host Buffs

first_imgFollowing a short two game road trip up to the Pacific Northwest, the USC Trojans (9-11, 1-6) will return home on Thursday night to take on the Colorado Buffaloes (10-9, 3-4).Despite losing both games on the road to Oregon and Oregon State, the Trojans showed great effort and signs of improvement. Their lack of experience, however, cost them dearly in late-game situations.The Trojans fell behind to Oregon but were able to battle back and tie the game before the Ducks went on a 9-0 run to put the game out of hand.After battling back and forth with Oregon State, the Trojans were unable to close out the game. With less than 30 seconds left, the Trojans had a chance to tie the game.Oregon State guard Gary Payton II stole the in bounds pass, however, and sealed the victory for the Beavers, who currently sit at third in the Pac-12.USC has been getting steady production from starters Katin Reinhard and Nikola Jovanovic, but the lack of help off the bench has held back a strong starting unit.In their two road games, the Trojans only got 21 points from their bench.Head coach Andy Enfield admits that his team has been growing and improving as the season wears on and that he is hoping to pull out some close games in the future.“Tonight, it went down to the last 30 seconds.” Anfield said after the 59-55 loss to Oregon State. “We’re getting better, but it’s frustrating when you don’t come out at the winning end.”Colorado heads to Southern California coming off an impressive 90-58 win over the Washington State Huskies.After winning their first two Pac-12 games, the Buffs lost four straight before defeating the Huskies last Saturday.The Buffs have yet to win a game away from Colorado, going 0-6 this season; USC is currently 6-4 at home. Colorado defeated USC 86-65 back on Jan. 4, however.USC has come a long way since that 20-point blowout, showing signs of a team that could develop into a possible Cinderella story, if luck goes their way. The Trojans have really only played one bad half of basketball against UCLA, where they were outscored by over 20 points in their last five games.Aside from that game the Trojans have battled close with some of the top teams in the Pac-12, losing at the buzzer to Stanford and down the stretch to Oregon and Oregon State, while snatching up a win against Cal at home.“I think we’re improving.” Enfield said. “However, we need to try to win some games.”Enfield hopes USC will be able to finally get a win against a struggling Colorado team. If the Trojans hope to avenge their 20-point loss, they will need more consistent team scoring. As a team, the Trojans are shooting just over 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from the 3-point line.Guards Jordan McLaughlin and Katin Reinhardt, along with forward Nikola Jovanovic currently lead the team in scoring but when one of them has an off night, USC struggles to get their offense going.Since his return from an elbow injury two weeks ago, McLaughlin has really struggled to find his shot. In his four games after retuning, the freshman is shooting just 29 percent from the field including an icy 4-19 from downtown. McLaughlin has found other ways to help the Trojans, however, by leading the team in assists and steals per game.While the Trojan offense has had its trouble, the defense has been fantastic over the past two games.After being exposed by UCLA, the Trojans kept both Oregon and Oregon State under 40 percent shooting while forcing them into 21 turnovers combined.The Trojans will need to keep their defensive intensity up and the offense will come around.The Buffs are lead by senior guard Askia Booker, who sits fifth in scoring in the Pac-12 with 16.3 points per game, and sophomore forward Wesley Gordon, who averages 7.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.In their previous meeting, the Buffs scorched the Trojans from beyond the 3-point arc, shooting above 50 percent and were able to get to the free throw line 19 times. The Trojans struggled to take care of the ball and gave up way too many open shots.Enfield has gotten the best out of his defense lately and will have to hope they continue to keep their intensity at the same high level.The Trojans and Buffs will tip off at the Galen Center on Thursday, Jan. 29 at 6:30 p.m. The game will be aired on FOX Sports 1.last_img

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