USC Emerges as Early Surprise in Pac-12 Basketball

By Evan Barnes
Jayne Kamin-Oncea – USA TODAY Sports Images

Lost in the shuffle of the first Pac-12 weekend was the fact USC not only beat Stanford, they played tough against California before free throw woes doomed them to another loss.

I was shocked the Trojans found enough resolve to muster up a close win against the Cardinal but perhaps it’s a good sign. They’ve equaled the number of conference wins they had all of last year and their poor December play (2-5) might have motivated them to prove they’re better than they looked all season.

This isn’t saying that USC should be a Pac-12 sleeper or anything. It’s just saying that at 1-1 in conference play. maybe they aren’t as bad as we thought for now. Head coach Kevin O’Neill constantly reminded the media that the preconference schedule would pay off in conference play and after two games, it’s possible to see that.

The Trojans still aren’t a great shooting team yet there’s optimism in how well Jio Fontan played last weekend. He hit the go-ahead free throws against Stanford and only had 2 total turnovers (while having 10 assists) in both games. I still think that he’s the key to driving USC along with Eric Wise and Byron Wesley and as he’s struggled, so have the Trojans struggled on offense.

The question I asked after this weekend is if USC going to be the best of the worst Pac-12 teams or could they sneak into maybe being the 7th or 8th best team? I guess we’ll know for sure after they face Colorado and especially Utah, who had a surprising opening weekend as well. Either the Trojans caught fool’s gold and will be brought back to Earth or they’ll raise a few more eyebrows.

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