After four-year absence, USC men’s basketball returns to AP rankings at No. 20

USC forward Max Agbonkpolo shoots over UCLA guard David Singleton.
USC forward Max Agbonkpolo, left, shoots over UCLA guard David Singleton during the Trojans’ 66-48 win Saturday.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

After four long years away, USC basketball is back in the top 25.

The Trojans debuted at No. 20 in the AP poll Monday, after key victories over Stanford and UCLA last week moved them into a tie atop the Pac-12.

The rest of the conference wasn’t so fortunate. UCLA, which was ranked 21st, fell out of the rankings. Oregon and Arizona State are the only other two Pac-12 teams to have been ranked at any point this season, but the Ducks have lost three of five games since last ranked, and the Sun Devils have lost six of eight dating to mid-December.

USC sophomore Ethan Anderson scored a career-best 19 points in the Trojans’ 66-48 victory over UCLA that left the teams in a tie atop the Pac-12.

Feb. 6, 2021

In a wildly inconsistent Pac-12, USC has emerged as a top contender for the conference title. The Trojans just earned their first victory over a ranked opponent — albeit one that immediately fell out of the poll — when they beat UCLA on Saturday. More importantly, they’ve lost just one game since the start of the new year, winning many by a wide margin.

That was the case again Saturday, as point guard Ethan Anderson turned in a career night and USC rolled over its crosstown rival, holding one of the conference’s top offenses to a season-low 48 points.

The teams are tied atop the Pac-12 at 9-2. The Trojans will take to the road this week to face Washington and Washington State, two of the conference’s bottom three teams.

The Trojans’ rivalry victory over the Bruins was just another step forward in a long and ongoing climb toward greater things.

Feb. 7, 2021