USC likely loses its chance to win the Pac-12 by falling at Arizona

Gabe York passed the 1,000-point mark for his career on Sunday night. (USATSI)

Rough weekend for USC. From 18-5 and right there, on the outside edge of the Pac-12’s top, to 18-7 and almost definitely out of the running to win the regular season championship.

It was a rough trip to Arizona for Southern Cal. The Trojans fell 74-67 at ASU on Friday night — which was not the expected outcome — then couldn’t keep pace with Arizona on Sunday. The 17th-ranked Wildcats beat No. 23 USC 86-80.

The fact the Trojans (18-7, 7-5) even had this chance speaks to how far the program has come in three years under Andy Enfield. It’s a bad turn of events but it’s still a good year for Southern Cal. Unfortunately, the back-to-back losses mark the third time this season Enfield’s team has dropped two straight.

This means USC will fall out of Monday’s rankings, but until the Trojans vaulted into the polls three weeks ago, they hadn’t occupied a spot in the AP rankings since 2008. So it’s been a big year, and so long as the bottom doesn’t come out, USC will make its first NCAA Tournament since 2011.

Next up is Colorado and Utah, two teams who also have good chances at making the field of 68. Colorado is probably the most overlooked potential tournament team in the country, and Utah has been too up-and-down for its own good, considering its talent. Let’s see how USC defends its home floor with some pressure applied.

For Arizona (21-5, 9-4), a win that gets the Wildcats back to the top of the league. This was the return tilt on college basketball’s second-longest game of the season, you might remember. The Trojans beat the Wildcats in a four-overtime affair back on Jan. 9. U of A senior Gabe York led his team with 17 points, passing the 1,000-point threshold in his career. Arizona is once again looking like a Final Four threat, which is something that’s yet to happen under Sean Miller.

The Wildcats get Arizona State at home on Wednesday, then have a full week before their game at Colorado. The Pac-12 is the weirdest conference in college basketball, so expect plenty of zany stuff to still go down, but it seems safe to say the conference will wind up being taken in early March by the Wildcats or by Oregon, which is also 9-4 heading into the week.


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