No. 5 USC no longer undefeated after loss to Stanford

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Much like when the Greeks gifted them a horse, the Trojans let their guard down after traveling to Palo Alto. 

No. 5 USC traveled to Stanford Jan. 11 looking to remain one of two unbeaten teams in the nation, but instead were upset by the unranked Cardinals 75-69. The game against Stanford was the Trojan’s second game back after pausing due to the coronavirus. Up until its game against UC Berkeley Jan. 6, USC hadn’t played since Dec. 18. 

The rust showed for the Trojans, as both the team’s signature stifling defense and explosive offense were absent. The defense allowed Stanford to shoot 43.9% from the floor, the highest any opponent has shot against USC all season, while the offense struggled to find a rhythm all game, settling for contested threes often and ending the game shooting 6 of 21 from beyond the arc. 

On offense, USC struggled to work together, as the team only mustered up 12 assists throughout the game, falling below their season average of 15.5. Ultimately, when the Trojans did get an open shot, it often just didn’t fall the right way. 

The USC defense found no answer for Stanford’s freshman forward Harrison Ingram, who ended the game with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Five of his rebounds were offensive rebounds, which led to costly second-chance points. 

Despite issues in USC’s play, the game remained close throughout. USC entered the half with a one point lead led by junior guard Boogie Ellis’ 10 points. After the second half kicked into gear, a multitude of missed free throws slowly gave Stanford the reins. USC shot 18-28 from the line in the second half alone. 

Senior guard Drew Peterson went to the line with a chance to bring USC within two while they were down 66-70 with under a minute remaining. The first shot barely rimmed out and all but sealed the game’s fate. 

Although the loss to an unranked team on national television ended the Trojans’ undefeated season, the team has two more opportunities to bounce back before the next AP Poll rankings. USC hosts both Oregon State Jan. 13 and Oregon Jan 15.