USC: Jimmy Kimmel
December, 22, 2011
By Pedro Moura | ESPNLosAngeles.com
Associated PressKansas guard Tyshawn Taylor makes a pass over USC forward Aaron Fuller, left, during Thursday's game.
LOS ANGELES -- USC's defense is legitimately great.
The Trojans consistently hold teams far below their per-game point averages and force them to alter their offensive gameplans.
It's unfortunate, then, that they're also incredibly inept on the offensive side of the ball. If the Trojans were even average at putting the ball in the basket, they'd probably be staring at a top-two finish in the Pac-12 conference and an NCAA tournament bid.
But they're not, and so Kevin O'Neill's ragtag squad of undersized athletes, junior-college discoveries and major-college transfers will continue to lose games like Thursday's to Kansas, 63-47.
"We're always going to defend well enough to have a chance to win," O'Neill said after Thursday's game. "It's whether we can make enough plays or not.
"Tonight, unfortunately, we just didn't do that."
As O'Neill indicated, it wasn't that the Jayhawks overpowered USC. Kansas came up more than 12 points short of its season average and shot just over 40 percent from the field. None of Bill Self's players scored more than 14 points.
It was just that the Trojans (5-8) couldn't score -- at all. They scored 13 points total in the first half, with four each from Aaron Fuller and Alexis Moore. Fuller finished with 19 points to lead all scorers, but Maurice Jones' seven were second, and they came on 13 shot attempts.
And, with that, even the USC defense faded some late. After holding Kansas (8-3) to 25 points in the first half, the Jayhawks responded with 38 in the second, shooting 50 percent from the field after converting just 33 percent in the first 20 minutes.
Guard Elijah Johnson led the Jayhawks with 14. Conner Teahan added 13 for Kansas, who was playing its first true road game of the season and coming off an upset loss to Davidson earlier in the week.
"The game was a grinder, and we knew it was going to be like that," Self said afterward. "They wore us out in the game."
Said O'Neill: "It's hard to keep playing good defense when you just cannot seem to get anything going,"