Los Angeles, CA – The Arizona Wildcats (26-3, 16-2) looked very much like the number two ranked team in the country on Tuesday night and comfortably walked away with a 20-point 91-71 win over the No. 16 USC Trojans (25-5, 14-5).
Offensively, the Trojans got off to a cold start which opened the door for the Wildcats to jump out to a 21-8 lead.
“Our three leading scorers started out 3 for 23 from the field, and you can’t win like that,” said Trojan head coach Andy Enfield. “You’re not going to beat anybody let alone Arizona. So, our best players have to play well in big games, and they’ve done that most of the season.”
With this momentum, the Wildcats made a statement by throwing down three consecutive dunks and went up by 21 points with two minutes remaining in the first half, 46-25.
Arizona got out early in transition and this made all of the difference for the Wildcats as the Trojans failed to get back on defense.
“Tonight, we weren’t very good basketball players. Especially on the offensive end. I think our offense hurt our defense early in the game because we were missing some shots. We weren’t finishing, missing open threes, we had a couple of live ball turnovers, and they got out in transition. That transition stretch really hurt us. Then we came back and cut into the lead then three straight transition baskets,” said coach Enfield.
From this point on, this game was a goner.
Coach Andy Enfield discussed his team’s defensive adjustments in attempting to stop the bleeding.
“We tried to trap their ball screens a few times, we hard hedged, we soft hedged, we dropped coverage, and we switched. We did a lot of different things tonight. When you’re playing a team that’s very sharp, they’re hard to guard,” said coach Enfield.
Arizona led 51-27 at the half and took full advantage of USC’s lax defense coming out of the locker room.
The middle was wide open all day for the Wildcats and the Trojans couldn’t find an answer.
Bennedict Mathurin gave the Trojans the business and led all scorers with 19 points, grabbed five rebounds, dished six assists, and hustled for three steals.
The Trojans were ice cold from the three and went 4/18 3-PTs (22.2%) from distance.
The Wildcats scored 19 points off of the 12 Trojan turnovers.
“This is college basketball, and we’ll see what we have Saturday. We got to bounce back. We have a lot to play for. We have a Pac-12 tournament coming up, we got our crosstown rival on Saturday, and we got the NCAA tournament. No one is going to feel sorry for us. I’m sure not going to feel sorry for anybody. We gotta figure this out and get better,” said coach Enfield.
Trojan forward Isaiah Mobley also stated what he is looking forward to for March.
“We only lost five games, so we just have to learn from it. I’d rather lose now than in either of those tournaments, this was a teaching point. Get this one out now, and let’s just try to get the ball rolling for the rest of March.”
USC was on fire with a six-game winning streak and two huge road wins before Tuesday.
The Trojans previously lost to the Wildcats 63-72 in Tucson, AZ on Feb. 5 in their first meeting.
USC football coach Lincoln Riley and USC receiver alum Nelson Agholor were in attendance to show support for the Trojans.
The Trojans take a drive across town to face the UCLA Bruins for their season closer on Saturday, March 5 at 7 p.m.