Result: Loss, 62-58 (OT)
Stats: 16 pts. (6-20 FG, 3-3 FT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists
Give credit to the Trojans for taking one of the best teams in the country to the wire, even if the game was at times as pretty to look at as a festering boil. USC’s success in this game had as much to do with Tim Floyd’s crazy-ass team morale building ploy in the Anaheim Classic final (see 11/27 post) as it did with the crazy-ass junk defense he pulled out of his butt against Memphis last night. For much of the game, USC looked like a cohesive, talented unit. Floyd played three guards who can handle the ball against Memphis’ constant pressure D, and the insertion of Davon Jefferson, the only 21 year-old freshman in the country who doesn’t play for BYU, into the starting frontcourt next to Taj Gibson has made them dangerous down low.
For his part, OJ Mayo also spent 3/4s of the game again trying to prove that he can be a team player before saying fuck it. And that “aw fuck it” moment is exactly when the warts start to show for this team. The Trojans at times still have the look of a team that could be very, very dangerous in March, yet at other times have the look of a team that could be involved in a knifing incident at practice. In other words, they’ve played four weeks of the season and still seem to be the same talented tinderbox they were when we started this thing. Which I guess is why we decided to do it in the first place. You just get the feeling that something is going to happen, you just gotta hope it’s going to be on Youtube when it does.
What else we noticed in the Jimmy V Classic:
- Let’s put away the anointing oils for Mayo and Derrick Rose for the time being. They’re good, they’re going to be good, but they’re not Kevin Durant. And even in 2007 it’s problematic if the best freshman jump shooter in the country is a 7 footer, even if he has a Euro name.
- Memphis and UCLA are my two early favorites for national champs, but neither has looked particularly invincible in their last games. Like the Bruins, Memphis’ perimeter shooting isn’t as reliable as you’d like in your national championship contender, and in the Tournament one prolonged dry spell can kill you. But also like UCLA, they do have the one weapon that can compensate for offensive struggles – athletic, suffocating defense. They flat get at it. And hell, if you want to win it all you’re going to have to win these kind of ugly games at some point.
- That’s a great win for Notre Dame, especially on a night when their usually reliable shooting wasn’t there, at least until it counted. If the Irish can break even in the Big East, we look forward to seeing them get run off the floor by some athletic low-major team come Tourney time.
- God are we wrong so far about Kansas State; they aren’t exactly a well-oiled machine. Bill Walker is starting to show signs of life though, which along with the still beastly Beasley will be outright frightening when he is finally fully healed. But if guard play is indeed the key to March success, K State wouldn’t be able to win the play-in game right now.