USC cannot sustain with Michigan State in NCAA event loss

A season spent climbing again from the brink, scratching and clawing its means from one week to the subsequent, had given USC each purpose to consider it may survive no matter setback or impediment may current itself. But months of perfecting that method would solely carry it up to now into March, as USC fell within the first spherical of the NCAA event for the second straight yr.

This time, there can be no reply for Michigan State’s balanced assault and no bouncing again for USC’s uneven one. This time, as Kobe Johnson fired off one late 3 three-pointer after one other, whereas Boogie Ellis tried to seek out his footing, and Drew Peterson tried desperately to maintain USC collectively, there was no use. This time, USC by no means emerged from the opening it dug for itself, falling to the Spartans, 72-62.

It was hardly the event expertise the Trojans had hoped for in its third journey in as a few years. USC solely superior previous the primary recreation in 2021.

This journey can be accomplished in, moderately unexpectedly, by USC’s protection.

USC made no effort this week to cover its plans towards Michigan State. It ready all week to run Michigan State off the three-point line, the place the Spartans ranked among the many most prolific offenses in school basketball, able to burying any offense, not to mention one vulnerable to prolonged lulls.

What USC hadn’t counted on was Michigan State attacking from the within whereas the Trojans crowded the arc. The Spartans would make solely 5 of 14 pictures from lengthy vary, however they’d add 32 factors within the paint, among the many most scored towards USC inside all season.

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The disappearance of its main scorer actually didn’t assist USC, both. In an eerily related efficiency to final yr’s early event loss, Boogie Ellis was ineffective. After averaging 22 factors over his final dozen video games, Ellis scored simply six factors on Friday from three-of-12 taking pictures.

Joshua Morgan led the best way unexpectedly on offense, at one level scoring eight straight. He completed with 14 factors.

Like it has so typically this season, USC opened Friday’s first-round matchup by digging a gap it could spend the remainder of the half climbing out of. Shots refused to fall early, because the Trojans opened three-of-12 taking pictures from the sector.

At the middle of that stagnant begin was the purpose guard who’d spent the previous two months carrying USC’s offense on his shoulders. Ellis had averaged greater than 22 factors per recreation over USC’s final dozen, pushing the Trojans to the correct aspect of the NCAA event bubble within the course of.

Ellis struggled Friday to seek out the underside of the web. Thirteen minutes handed earlier than Ellis lastly made his first shot. By the top of the primary half, USC’s main scorer was a meager one for six from the sector.

His early struggles had been eerily paying homage to final season’s first-round event loss, when Ellis additionally opened one-of-six taking pictures and proceeded to unravel from there, taking part in a season-low 14 minutes earlier than Enfield benched him.

This time, nevertheless, Ellis rapidly discovered his footing. So would USC’s offense. A sluggish begin gave option to a sudden torrent within the ultimate minutes of the primary half, as USC completed on a 10-for-14 taking pictures tear.

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It wouldn’t final. The second half would slip away in a haze of turnovers and missed pictures, leaving USC as soon as once more to return residence questioning the way it’d come unraveled so rapidly in March.