Saturday, January 9, 2010
Trojans can't keep up with Cal, lose 67-59
By Pedro Moura
For a while, it looked like the Trojans had a good shot at winning Saturday night's battle with Cal at Haas Pavilion.
For most of the game, in fact — especially when they led 50-43 with 10 minutes to go.
But from that point on the Bears finished the game on a 24-9 run, taking control of the game quickly and never looking back.
For USC (10-6, 2-2), Dwight Lewis had his second straight productive game, scoring 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting. Post-men Alex Stepheson and Nikola Vucevic added 12 and 11 points, but the Trojans didn't get nearly enough from Mike Gerrity and Marcus Johnson to stay competitive.
Gerrity had a solid stretch at the start of the second half but was otherwise nearly invisible on the offensive end. Late in the game, he also let Cal point guard Jerome Randle dominate him to the tune of 21 points on just 13 shots.
Johnson didn't score a point after the 2:55 mark of the first half.
Now, much had been made of USC's perfect record since Gerrity's debut, but that statistic went down in flames against Stanford and Cal this week. He was thoroughly outplayed Saturday night by Randle and matched Wednesday by the Cardinal's point guard by committee.
Cal (10-5, 2-1) also got 20 points from forward Theo Robertson and eight from Jamal Boykin.
The key development from this week in the Bay Area is that the Trojans aren't a good offensive team. We knew this early on in the season, but unrealistic performances against Tennessee and UNLV brainwashed some into believing the Trojans could score in a pinch.
So while their defense has been strong all season long, the Trojans will consistently struggle against strong offensive teams like Cal — who came into the game averaging 80 points per game on the season.
The problem, of course, is that even though USC held the Bears a sizable 13 points below their season average, a significantly better than average offensive performance would have been required for the Trojans to win.
In fact, Saturday's total of 59 points matched USC's season average on the dot.
What does this all mean?
In short, USC simply looks to be coming back down the earth after a better-than-expected start to the Pac-10 season.
But the Trojans will get some much-needed rest, with a full week off until they play UCLA next Saturday at Pauley Pavilion.