USC has lost in many different ways in this nightmare of a basketball season. There have been blowouts and a string of close losses. Recently, there have been suspensions and fights.
There have been low points and even lower points, but perhaps no night quite as bad as Wednesday in a 70-66 loss to Washington State at the Galen Center.
Not only did USC fall just short of a 19-point comeback, not only did they clinch at least a tie for last place in the Pac-12, but they also officially lost their starting point guard for the rest of the season and more.
Jordan McLaughlin will undergo surgery on “one, probably two” shoulders, USC Coach Andy Enfield announced after the game. In high school, McLaughlin had surgery on his left shoulder and has suffered injuries to both shoulders this season. He has been out since Feb. 11.
“I think all teams go through adversity at some point in the season,” Enfield said. “We've had quite a bit of it.”
Enfield did not go into details about the surgery, but he said the rehabilitation is typically five to six months, meaning if the recovery goes well, McLaughlin would be back by the start of preseason practices in the fall.
McLaughlin was the jewel of Enfield's recruiting class this season. Before the injury, McLaughlin went through a stretch of erratic shooting, but he has been among the Trojans' best players.
He averaged 12.1 points per game, tied for the team lead, along with a team-leading 4.5 assists per game.
“We expect a full recovery,” Enfield said.
He added: “We expect Jordan to come back next year and have a terrific season for us.”
An unpleasant season for USC, 10-18 overall and 2-14 in the Pac-12, has reached a nadir over the last week.
Before Sunday's game against Arizona State, USC sent three players back to Los Angeles for a violation of team rules. They were reinstated on Monday. USC got through one day before the next issue flared up.
On Tuesday, what Enfield described as a “trivial” disagreement between guard Julian Jacobs and forward Darion Clark boiled into to a post-practice fight between the two players.
Against the Cougars, the Trojans took a 12-5 lead to start the game. It did not last long. Washington State scored 18 of the next 20 points and led by 10 at the half.
The malaise spilled over to the second half, as the Cougars built a 19-point lead. But USC began pressing and chipped away at the lead.
A three by Malik Marquetti made it a three-point game with more than three minutes left. Marquetti scored a career-high 16 points.
With less than a minute left, down three points, USC had its chance. Julian Jacob, who had 16 points and nine assists, dribbled the ball up. He expected Enfield to call a timeout, but Enfield preferred to save it. Jacobs improvised, and dribbled across the paint, then back. He spun and shot.
It hit the iron.
Follow Zach Helfand on Twitter @zhelfand