USC continues to impress this March. After ousting the Drake Bulldogs in the first round and soundly beating Kansas in the second, USC was back in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2007. The Trojans did not disappoint their fan base.
Led by redshirt senior guard Isaiah White’s 22 points and Tahj Eaddy’s 20-point performance, No 6. USC defeated No. 7 seed Oregon to advance to their first Elite Eight appearance in two decades.
“We’re making history and it just means a lot to this program,” White said. “As a team, we’re just super excited and we worked for this, so I’m glad that it’s paying off.”
USC head coach Andy Enfield reflected what a win like this means for the development of his program and how far they’ve come in his eight years.
“It’s a big moment in USC basketball,” Enfield said. “It’s our second Elite Eight in the last 60 years — 2001 and obviously now. So it’s a huge win for our players, our program. But at the same time … we have another game to play on Tuesday. And we’ll go give it our best shot.”
In their last meeting in February, the Trojans cruised past the Ducks behind Eaddy’s 24 point performance (he scored 21 in the first half).
On the biggest stage, USC played lockdown defense against Oregon holding them to a 38 percent shooting night, while limiting their three-point attempts as well keeping them under 25 percent from three.
Despite the defeat, the green and lightning yellow men played the men of Troy tough and didn’t make the game easy. The Ducks were led by redshirt senior forward Eugene Omoruyi’s 28 points, ten rebound performance. Additionally, senior guard Chris Duarte added 21 points, six assists, and five rebounds to keep the Ducks in the game.
In this game, the Trojans saw two of their biggest role players come up big when the lights shined the brightest.
USC also saw contributions from the always dangerous Mobley brothers who combined to score 23 points and make an impact on defense snagging 14 rebounds and adding three blocks to their stat lines.
Three wins are checked off in the tournament with so much more left to play for. The Trojans will quickly turn things around and get ready to face the tournament’s number one overall seed the Gonzaga Bulldogs of the West Coast Conference on Tuesday night.
The Trojans believe they can compete with the best, and this matchup in the elite eight will possibly cement that claim.
“We believe we can beat anybody,” White said. Isaiah also acknowledged the challenges that lie ahead for his team as they prepare for a highly-skilled opponent.
“The energy of March Madness; the crowd. We know what’s at stake,” White added. “It’s do or die. So everyone is just going out there laying it all out on the floor.”
USC and Gonzaga will fight it out for a spot in the final four at Lucas Oil Stadium with the tip-off set for 4:15 p.m. on Tuesday night.