The Trojans upset the Wildcats, 78-65, ending the season on a three-game winning streak

USC defeated No. 5 Arizona, 78-65 on senior night, with Rodman delivering a stunning 19-point performance on Saturday.

LOS ANGELES — It’s senior night for the Trojans as the No. 5 ranked Arizona Wildcats visit the Galen Center for the last game of the regular season. USC has won their last two games and have a record of 5-4 in their last nine games. On the other hand, Arizona is coming off a big 88-65 win against UCLA on Thursday.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

The Trojans fight on in the first half

During the senior night for the Trojans, the Arizona fans provided the energy in the first half of the game. Caleb Love, who is a favorite to win the Pac-12 player of the year award, has been showcasing his skills all season long since he transferred to Arizona. In the first half of the game, Oumar Ballo made a strong statement by controlling the paint and setting screens for his team. Although the Wildcats had excellent ball movement, they failed to convert on their open shots. Love was 0-3 from beyond the arc, while the whole team shot 1 of 7 from three to start the game. USC’s defense was able to force nine turnovers against the Wildcats.

During the game, although Arizona tried to slow down the Trojans, USC managed to make a good start by forcing seven steals. However, they could not defend consistently without fouling. The Trojans were leading most of the first half, but they had to battle it out till the end of the first half. Bronny James hit a three-pointer at the buzzer, and USC went to the locker room with a 34-30 lead. James ended the half with five points, including a steal that led to a slam dunk. It was an exciting moment for LeBron James, who was sitting courtside to witness the game.

At the end of the first half, USC Trojans were leading Arizona, thanks to Kobe Johnson’s nine points, who made all five of his free throws. Boogie Ellis only managed to score three points, while Joshua Morgan struggled to score, managing only two points. On the other hand, Isaiah Collier contributed five points, three rebounds, and two assists. USC Trojans had a shot 46.4% from the field, while Arizona struggled with just 36.4%.

Arizona couldn’t get going offensively in the 2nd half

During the second half, USC kept their lead by playing offense aggressively and having good defensive stops. Recently, the Trojans have been healthier than they have been all year, which has shown in their last few games. After the win over the Sun Devils, Andy Enfield spoke about how important it is to have his players available for practice. At one point in the middle of the second half, USC was leading 53-46, and Wildcats coach Tommy Lloyd tried to hype up the Arizona fans sitting behind their bench.

Ballo was fouled with 11:16 left on the clock. LeBron James appeared frustrated with the USC team’s current play on the court and was seen waving his hands towards their bench. Johnson and Ellis had mentioned in previous games that they were hoping to upset a team in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament as they didn’t expect too do it on Saturday.

Collier scored a jumper in front of his bench and was fouled, giving his team a 69-59 lead with 3:55 remaining. Despite injuries holding them back, this USC team looked like the team everyone expected at the beginning of the season. On senior night, Rodman played exceptionally well, scoring 19 points, grabbing 6 rebounds, and shooting 7 of 8 from the field.

USC has won three games in a row and pulled off an upset against the No. 5 Arizona Wildcats with a score of 78-65. This victory came in their last regular season game before heading to Las Vegas for the Pac-12 tournament. The Trojans’ defense was on full display as they held Arizona to just 65 points, despite the Wildcats averaging 90.3 points per game all season long. The biggest surprise of the game was Love’s performance, as he scored only two points, going 1 of 10 from the field and 0 for 6 from beyond the arc. Love has been outstanding throughout the season for the Wildcats, but he couldn’t get it done on Saturday night.

Enfield spoke about James’ performance against Arizona after the game and was impressed. James has not had much playing time on the court to showcase his talents, but on Saturday, during the game broadcasted on ESPN, he played for 19 minutes and finished with five points, six rebounds, and one assist in the win.

“This is the best he’s played in a while.” said Enfield postgame.

It was possibly James’ last game as a Trojan on Saturday, in case he does not make the jump to the NBA. Rich Paul, CEO of Klutch Sports, reported earlier this week that James will consider the jump only if a team shows interest in drafting him. According to a USC spokesperson, James is most likely leaving for the NBA, as his team has been open with USC about the possibility of him leaving. On the other hand, Ellis played his final game at the Galen Center, finishing with five points, two rebounds, and three assists on 1 of 8 from the field. It wasn’t the night he expected, but the team’s victory was more important. The team is heading into the tournament with a three-game winning streak.

Pac-12 Tournament next for the Trojans

After beating Arizona, USC is now getting ready to face Washington on Wednesday afternoon in Las Vegas. The Trojans had previously defeated the Huskies last Saturday afternoon on the road, scoring 82-75, with Collier leading the team with 31 points. If they manage to win on Wednesday, they will then try to beat Arizona once again on Thursday. Although USC managed to win against Arizona on Saturday, the road ahead is tough and challenging. Despite this, no other team is eager to face them.

I asked Enfield about the team’s rocky start to the season and now, a three-game winning streak. He plans to prepare his team for the upcoming tournament on the issues they have dealt with.

“Hopefully, we learned from some of our mistakes, especially in the last three or four minutes of games. We have to head over to Vegas confident. We also understand that the margin of errors is very small, and we know that because we’ve been on the wrong side of the game a few times this year.” said Enfield after the upset win over Arizona.

The Trojans are gearing up for the Pac-12 championship. Before heading to Las Vegas for the tournament, the team will have a few practice sessions to prepare for the upcoming game. The Trojans had a challenging regular season, finishing with a record of 14-17 and 8-12 in Pac-12 play. However, the team remains optimistic and determined to make a strong showing in Las Vegas this upcoming week. With hard work and a solid game plan, the Trojans are hoping to make some noise and potentially come out on top in the Pac-12 championship.