Arizona Has Big Shoes to Fill, but USC Can’t Seem to Step It Up


USC will not be a legitimate contender in the Pacific 10 Conference basketball race until the Trojans find a way to win such games as the one they lost Thursday night to No. 18 Arizona.

The Wildcats played without leading scorer and rebounder Joseph Blair, but the Trojans were unable to take advantage, losing 93-81, before 14,288 at McKale Center.

Blair, a 6-foot-10 senior who averages 14.7 points and a Pacific 10-leading 8.9 rebounds, did not play after being ruled academically ineligible by Arizona school officials on Wednesday. The Wildcats, however, showed that they do not have a one-man team as six players scored in double figures.


Stais Boseman had 22 points and five assists, and Jaha Wilson had 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Trojans (9-7 overall, 2-3 in the Pacific 10), who lost to Arizona (12-3, 2-2) for the seventh consecutive time.

“They wanted the game more than we wanted it,” said Brandon Martin, who had 17 points for USC. “As a team we were not hungry enough for the win.”

USC struggled against Wildcat interior players Ben Davis (21 points and 11 rebounds) and Corey Williams (18 points and 10 rebounds).

Arizona outrebounded the Trojans, 39-34, but the key for the Wildcats was that they were able to score points on 15 offensive rebounds.

“That’s something that we cannot blame on coaching,” Martin said. “Our coaches take a lot of heat, but it’s not their fault that we’re not executing, playing hard or rebounding. That’s stuff that they can’t do for us.”

It did not help that USC’s starting big men, Avondre Jones and Wilson, both found themselves on the bench with four fouls each less than seven minutes into the second half.


“Having our big guys in foul trouble allowed them to attack the basket more,” USC Coach Charlie Parker said. “Other than that, I thought we played solid defense.”

The Trojans couldn’t convert on numerous inside scoring opportunities in shooting 41% in the first half and trailed, 40-30, at halftime.

“We had to pick up our game because USC is not that bad of a team,” said Arizona’s Reggie Geary, who had 11 points and five assists. “USC pressured us better than most teams we’ve played this season, but we were ready and our guys played well tonight.”

In Blair’s absence, Davis--a 6-9 senior--started at center and Joe McLean started at forward and scored 15 points. Guard Miles Simon had 14 and reserve swingman Michael Dickerson had 14 points and five rebounds.

Point guard Cameron Murray started for USC after playing only two minutes because of back spasms in the Trojans’ 84-80 victory over Stanford last Sunday. Murray, however, was visibly bothered and had only two points and one assist with five turnovers in 25 minutes.

“I was playing not to hurt myself and was not aggressive,” said Murray, who did not practice this week. “[My back] was bothering me almost the whole game.”


Parker had to play Murray because of the Trojans’ lack of backcourt scoring off the bench. Reserves Ty Reuter and Damion Dawson were scoreless in 26 combined minutes.

“You have to give Arizona credit because regardless of who plays, they are a smart team that works on the other team’s mistakes,” Murray said.

USC plays Arizona State at Tempe on Saturday.