USC suffered its fifth straight loss with a 57-46 defeat by Arizona on Sunday. The Trojans were primed to take on the Wildcats at the Galen Center, hoping to upset the then 10-5 conference rival. Last season, USC upset the then-top-ranked Wildcats. History, however, did not repeat itself. The loss pushed the Trojans to a 5-12 overall record. USC has yet to win a conference game this season.
In the first half, USC shot 21 percent from the field and did not make a single free throw out of seven attempts. Arizona led by 20 points with just seconds remaining in the first half.
It did not get any prettier for the Trojans in the second half. USC shot 38 percent from the field and sophomore guard Maurice Jones was the only player to execute a 3-pointer.
“We played pretty well defensively” USC coach Kevin O’Neill said. “We shot 29 percent, 6 percent at the 3-point line and that’s not going to beat anybody, anywhere, anytime. We’re just not making shots and we haven’t been for most of the year.”
O’Neill isn’t the only one bewildered by the team’s lack of efficiency.
“I don’t have an answer for it,” freshman guard Byron Wesley said. “We are shooting in the gym everyday but we just keep missing these shots. I think eventually we are going to come out and start making these shots.”
Wesley totaled eight points, seven rebounds, one assist and one steal against the Wildcats.
“We know we have what it takes on defense,” Wesley said. “We know that once we get rolling on offense, we should be a better team.”
USC forced 17 turnovers and allowed only nine in its duel on Sunday.
Along with Wesley, Jones and freshman Alexis Moore played the bulk of the minutes for the Trojans. Jones led the team in scoring with 14 points and also added three steals. Alexis Moore posted two points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals.
O’Neill said with time the team has and will continue to improve.
“These guys will end up having a lot of success” O’Neill said. “Alexis, Dewayne, Byron and Maurice are all good players. They are in roles that they cannot handle right now so they’re a little overwhelmed.”
O’Neill plans to utilize the extra time before their game on Sunday to work on individual improvements with the team.
“We’re going to make individual improvements because we have so many young guys,”O’Neill said. “We want to make sure that guys are getting all kinds of shots every single day.”
The Trojans have one week off before hosting crosstown rival UCLA on Sunday. It will be the first of a two game series this season between both schools. UCLA has won seven of its last nine games with its most recent victories over Arizona and Arizona State.
USC will face UCLA on Sunday, Jan. 15 at 6 p.m. The game will be televised on FOX Sports Net.