A home loss to rival UCLA in the regular season finale put USC’s inclusion in the NCAA tournament in doubt, with many bracketologists having the Trojans on the outside looking in entering the Pac-12 tournament. As of Thursday morning, only 70 of 80 brackets tallied by BracketMatrix.com included USC despite it finishing second in the conference with a 12-6 record.
Any doubt that USC will be dancing was erased with its 61-48 win over Oregon State at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, moving the second-seeded Trojans (22-10) into the semifinals for the first time since the conference expanded to 12 teams.
USC coach Andy Enfield on Trojans’ tournament case: “We finished second in the Pac-12 and our RPI is in the low 30s. Enough said.”
— Kyle Bonagura (@BonaguraESPN) March 9, 2018
USC’s last conference tourney semifinal appearance came in 2011, when it lost to regular-season champ Arizona in the last Pac-10 tournament.
Despite only a seven-man rotation at coach Andy Enfield’s disposal, after sophomore guard Derryck Thornton was held out because of an upper respiratory infection, the Trojans looked fresh thanks to four days off. They shot 45.3 percent overall and 50 percent in the second half and held No. 10 Oregon State (16-16) to 30.5 percent shooting.
Junior forward Chimezie Metu had 22 points and 11 rebounds, making 10 of 15 shots including a few dunks on alley-oops from senior guard Jordan McLaughlin, who chipped in 11 points and 4 assists. Sophomore guard Jonah Mathews had 13 points and was 3-of-5 from 3-point range.
The Trojans are moving on!
— USC Men's Basketball (@USC_Hoops) March 9, 2018
USC will play either No. 3 Utah (19-10) or No. 6 Oregon (21-11) in Friday night’s semifinals. The Trojans swept both teams during the regular season.
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