USC’s offense disappears in NCAA tournament loss to Michigan State

COLUMBUS — Perhaps this was the way it was always meant to end. A USC men’s basketball team whose offense had a penchant for disappearing for vast stretches of games, disappearing at the worst possible moment.

It’s something USC could get away with at times over the course of the season, but not Friday, as the 10th-seeded Trojans fell to seventh-seeded Michigan State 72-62 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

The Trojans shot 11 for 32 from the floor in the second half. Eleven turnovers generated 16 Michigan State points. Leading scorers Boogie Ellis and Drew Peterson combined to shoot 7 for 22 from the floor.

And somehow worse, with USC down nine with two minutes left, after Michigan State missed three consecutive front ends of one-and-one free throws, the Trojans failed to score three times as the opportunity for a comeback slipped away.

Not to say USC’s offensive woes began in the second half.

The Trojans quickly fell behind by 11, in part due to allowing Michigan State to make 10 of 18 attempts with open looks. But the bigger problem for USC was its own shot selection.

USC missed nine of its first 12 attempts and 12 of its first 15 shots were jumpers. The Trojans were settling for long looks, including one 30-foot Ellis 3-pointer that left head coach Andy Enfield flabbergasted.

But USC found an unlikely hero, as is so often the case in March.

Michigan State opted not to defend center Joshua Morgan when USC drove to the rim, instead deploying his man to double-team the ball handler. So USC started feeding Morgan, and the center made four straight baskets. A jumper and three layups later, and USC was within three and Spartans coach Tom Izzo had called a timeout.

When Morgan returned to the bench, he could hardly stand up straight …read more

Source:: Los Angeles Daily News

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