The growing buzz, the six-game win streak, it’s becoming a distant memory for USC.
The Trojans have dropped two straight on the road, both on late shots, and both after holding a lead late in the game.
“We know we’re capable of finishing,” Jordan McLaughlin said after practice Friday. “We looked at the mistakes that we made and we just have to make sure that we clean them up to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”
USC (17-8, 8-4 Pac-12 Conference) will play No. 13 Arizona (19-6, 9-3) on Saturday at the McKale Center.
USC has not won in Tucson since 2008.
“We just have to have a quick turnaround and lock in,” McLaughlin said.
The Trojans’ defeat Thursday at Arizona State appeared similar to their loss a week earlier at UCLA.
Against the Bruins, USC held a nine-point lead with 8:09 to play before UCLA made a run and a last-minute shot. The Trojans failed to make a basket in the final 2:08 of the game.
Then at Arizona State, the Trojans held an eight-point lead with 3:39 to play before they went cold, not making a field goal in the final 2:28 as the Sun Devils went on a 9-0 run, capped with a layup for the win.
“Last night was the first time we beat ourselves,” coach Andy Enfield said. “We didn’t do the little things down the stretch.”
The Trojans lead the conference in the assist-to-turnover margin, averaging 17.3 to 10.2.
But they committed 18 turnovers against the Sun Devils, including three in the final two minutes.
“They’re usually better than that in those situations,” Enfield said.
Said McLaughlin: “Just a few things didn’t go our way.”
Despite consecutive losses, a victory Saturday could give USC a share of the lead in the Pac-12 standings.
Arizona, coming off back-to-back losses against Washington and UCLA, is in first place. The Trojans are tied for second with UCLA.
“We know what is at stake,” McLaughlin said. “We have to come out and give it our all.”
Enfield was confident USC could move on from its late-game woes.
“Our team has been resilient before,” he said. “They need to keep playing hard.”
Where: McKale Center, Tucson.
On the air: TV: ESPN; Radio: 690.
Update: USC has lost back-to-back Pac-12 games for the first time this season. The Trojans allowed more than 70 points in both defeats. During their six-game win streak they did not allow an opponent to score more than 70. Arizona has not lost three straight in conference since 2010.