Sorry for not having recaps sooner, my weekend was a little crazy. I want to quickly recap the weekend, then forever erase it from my memory. We knew that it would be a tough road trip, but that USC game leaves a really bad taste in my mouth. Basically, here is the breakdown.
UCLA was just the better team. They were bigger, stronger, and played with more desire. Their defense was damn near perfect--nobody in the country beats them when they play defense like that, and it is a testament to our guys that they were even that close, because it could have been blowout city. Still, you waited for the run that we have become so accustomed to, but it just never came. UCLA took high percentage shots. Mhah a Moute finally broke out of his slump and had a huge game. Maarty just couldn't guard all the big guys by himself. And the defensive job that they did on Aaron Brooks was phenomenal. Aaron never got open on the high pick and roll, and he was clearly outplayed by Arron Afflalo that night. The Ducks shot a low percentage, but every shot they took was contested. Bottom line: UCLA was on a mission, and they would not be denied.
I'm okay with that. There is no shame in losing to UCLA on their home court. But the USC game was a different manner. This wasn't the case of being beaten by a superior team. This was a case of lazy defense and bad offense. What happened to the tough Duck defense that we saw earlier this season? Because all I saw USC do in the first half was shoot layups and wide open threes. The Ducks weren't getting to the ball, and didn't appear to be putting in too much effort on the defensive end. Couple that with the fact that the offense was turnover city. We really outrebounded SC, but they had so many wide open shots that there just weren't many rebounds, period, in that game. Aaron Brooks had a mediocre game. Just a little more effort, and that game is an Oregon W. And what is even more maddening is the end of the game. I haven't gotten on Ernie Kent all season, but to go to Champ Oguchi with the game on the line? I really don't get that.
Now, the good news is that we are still going to get an NCAA berth, and still have a really good shot at second in the conference. Our schedule is very favorable from here on out. But the bad defense and offense that we have had for four games in a row needs to stop. We have ASU coming up next, the perfect team to get better against. But this team needs to rediscover what they had a few weeks ago. There is no reason to believe that they won't do that. Remember, the 2001-02 team got swept on the road in the bay area. We all know how they responded to that.