NCAA Men’s Basketball Sweet 16 Tonight: 9:45 p.m. West, familiar rivals (7) Oregon vs. (6) USC, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, TBS; Trojans game preview 

 March 26, 2021

Trojans reach the round of 16 for the first time since 2007, 5th time in school history

The No. 6 seed USC Trojans (24-7, 15-5) will face the No. 7 seed Oregon Ducks (21-6, 14-4) in an NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind. on March 28 at 6:45 p.m. PT.  The game will air on TBS with Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery and Grant Hill calling the action, with Tracy Wolfson providing courtside reports. It will also be on Westwood One Radio with Kevin Kugler and P.J. Carlesimo calling the action. USC has won 20 or more games for the fifth time in its last six seasons under Andy Enfield. USC’s 24-7 record is its best since the 1992 team finished 24-6.  The 24 wins are tied for the third most in school history. 

USC IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT – USC is 16-19* all-time in NCAA Tournament action (*1 loss in 2008 vacated due to NCAA penalty, original record 16-20).  USC was last in the tournament in 2017 when the Trojans went 2-1, defeating Providence 75-71 in a First Four game and SMU 66-65 in a first-round game, before falling 84-78 to Baylor in the second-round. USC is 4-2 in the NCAA Tournament under head coach Andy Enfield.  The only player on USC’s roster who previously had played in the NCAA Tournament was forward Chevez Goodwin who played for Wofford in 2019 which defeated Seton Hall before losing to Kentucky.  USC’s No. 6 seed is its highest since also being a No. 6 seed in 2008.  USC is now 7-5 against this year’s NCAA field.

BREAKING DOWN OREGON —  The Oregon Ducks (21-6 14-4) are coming off a 95-80 dismantling of No. 2 seed Iowa on March 22.  The Ducks advanced out of the first round by no contest as VCU had positive COVID-19 tests within its program.  All five Oregon starters average double figures in points, led by guard Chris Duarte at 17.0 points per game. USC won the only meeting of the season between the two Pac-12 schools, 72-58, on Feb. 22 at the Galen Center.  Oregon was awarded the conference title by percentage points over USC (77.8 to 75.0) as the Ducks finished 14-4 and the Trojans 15-5 in Pac-12 play.  USC has won five of the last seven meetings with Oregon, but had lost 14 consecutive times to the Ducks prior to that.  The Trojans lead the all-time series 65*-58 (2 wins vacated due to NCAA penalty, original record 67-58).

EPIC WIN OVER KANSAS SENDS USC TO SWEET 16  — Isaiah Mobley hit one of his career-high four 3-pointers to start the scoring and No. 6 seed USC never slowed down in an 85-51 NCAA second-round victory over No. 2 seed Kansas on March 22 at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind.  The margin of victory was the largest ever for USC in an NCAA Tournament game and was the largest loss for Kansas in an NCAA Tournament game.  It was also the third-largest margin of defeat for the Jayhawks in any game ever. Kansas missed 10 of its first 11 shots as USC built a 12-3 lead.  USC led 29-21 with 4 minutes remaining before halftime and finished on an 11-0 run to open a 40-21 lead at the break. Kansas cut it to 44-28 early in the second half, but never got closer.  Isaiah Mobley finished with 17 points and 8 rebounds and his brother Evan posted a double-double of 10 points and 13 rebounds. Isaiah White (13), Tahj Eaddy (12) and Chevez Goodwin (10) also scored in double figures.  USC held Kansas to 29.0 percent shooting, while making 57.1 percent of its own shots. USC also made 11 of 18 3-pointers for a season-best 61.1 percent from beyond the arc. 

USC REACHES 5TH SWEET 16 — USC is playing in its fifth Sweet 16 in school history and the first since the 2007 season.  USC also reached the Sweet 16 in the 1954, 1961 and 2001 seasons.  The last time USC advanced to the Elite Eight was the 2001 season and has done so three times total, the other two were 1940 (8 teams total in the tournament) and 1954. 

MOBLEY’S HISTORIC HAUL OF PAC-12 AWARDS — Evan Mobley was named the 2020-21 Pac-12 Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year on March 9.  He became the first Pac-12 player to win all three awards in a single season and joined Anthony Davis of Kentucky (2011-12) as the only other major conference player to accomplish the feat.  Mobley joins Shareef Abdur-Rahim (California, 1996), Kevin Love (UCLA, 2008) and Deandre Ayton (Arizona, 2018) to win the Pac-12 Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year Awards in the same season.  The only player to double as Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year was Gary Payton (Oregon State, 1987). Mobley became USC’s fourth conference Player of the Year (Wayne Carlander – 1985, Harold Miner – 1992 and Sam Clancy – 2002).    Mobley also becomes USC’s second Conference Freshman of the Year, joining Miner who won the award in 1990. Mobley is the third USC player to be selected as the top defensive player in the Pac-12, joining Marcus Simmons (2011) and Taj Gibson (2009).

THE UNICORN — USC freshman Evan Mobley, who is averaging 16.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 3.0 blocks, is the only Division I player to be averaging at least 16.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 2.0  assists. 

ENFIELD NAMED PAC-12 COACH OF THE YEAR — USC head coach Andy Enfield was named the 2021 John R. Wooden Pac-12 Coach of the Year recipient as he has guided the Trojans to a 22-7 record and second place in the Pac-12 with a 15-5 record, percentage points behind Oregon (14-4).  USC’s current 24 victories are the most by a Pac-12 team and only six Division I teams have won more games this season through games on March 24. Enfield has guided the Trojans to a 156-109 record in his eight seasons as USC’s head coach, the fourth most wins in school history. The Trojans currently ranked No. 23 in the AP poll. Enfield is now three wins away from picking up his 200th career victory, as he is 197-137 in 10 years as a college head coach. Enfield is the first USC head coach to be named the conference’s Coach of the Year since George Raveling in 1992. The other Conference Coach of the Year winners were Stan Morrison in 1985 and Bob Boyd in 1979. 

DOING IT WITH DEFENSE — USC has held its opponents to 38.07 percent shooting this season, best in the Pac-12 and 5th-best in the country. Stanford’s 51.9 percent shooting against USC on Feb. 2 and UCLA’s 51.0 percent on March 6 were the only two times this season a Trojan opponent shot over 50 percent.  

TROJANS HOSTING NO. 1 BLOCK PARTY — USC has had 164 blocks in its first 31 games for an average of 5.3 blocks per game, first in the country in terms of total blocks.  Freshman Evan Mobley is averaging 3.0 blocks per game, 6th in the country and first among freshmen. Mobley already set the USC freshman record for blocks in a season (93) and ranks 2nd on the school’s all-time top 10 list for a single season (Gibson – 100).

THE WINNING WAYS —  Since the beginning of the 2016 season USC has picked up 133 victories which are the 16-most by any team in  the six Power basketball conferences in that period (ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12 & SEC).  The last two seasons, USC’s 46 total wins are tied for the third most among all six basketball power conference teams.


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