No. 21 Southern Cal looks to top Washington in Pac-12 tourney
No. 21 Southern Cal will try to follow its highest regular-season win total in school history with a deep postseason run when it faces Washington in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament Thursday night in Las Vegas.
The third-seeded Trojans (25-6) enter play having dropped their past two games, falling by 20 at home to regular-season conference champion Arizona and by seven at crosstown rival UCLA. It is USC's first losing streak since February 2021, a few weeks before the Trojans got hot and reached the Elite Eight in last year's NCAA Tournament.
Despite the recent skid, USC is bullish about its immediate and distant future. On Wednesday it signed coach Andy Enfield to a contract extension, locking him in through the 2027-28 season.
"I am so proud of the success our players have had on the court and academically," said Enfield, who is 182-116 in nine seasons with USC.
The Trojans will face a Washington team that had four players in double figures in an 82-70 win over Utah in the first round Wednesday night. The sixth-seeded Huskies (17-14) got 22 points from Pac-12 scoring leader Terrell Brown Jr., with Jamal Bey adding 19, Cole Bajema 16 and Emmitt Matthews Jr. 10.
"It was huge," Brown said. "We just made lanes for our teammates, passed the ball, opened up lanes."
Washington forces more than 15 turnovers per game, including more than eight steals a game, an issue for USC after it gave the ball away 15 times against UCLA.
"We'll have to do a better job of that when we go to Las Vegas, strike that down to 10 or 11 at most," Enfield said.
Forward Isaiah Mobley is USC's leading scorer (14.6 ppg) and rebounder (8.5 pg), but senior guard Drew Peterson became the Trojans' most important offensive weapon late in the season. Peterson averaged 17 points and shot 44.7 percent from 3-point range over the last eight games and went for 14 points, six rebounds and seven assists in a 79-69 home win over Washington on Feb. 17.
"USC is one of the best teams in the league," Washington coach Mike Hopkins said. "It'll be a great challenge. We're up for the challenge, excited for the challenge."
Washington hopes to reach the Pac-12 semifinals for the first time since 2019, when as the No. 1 seed it was upset in the tournament title game by Oregon.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 10, 2022