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Seven-Ten games in the NCAA Tournament are always intriguing and some would say are not upsets, like the 8-9 matchups. The BC-USC game seemed to fit the mold as you had the seventh seeded Eagles with the flex offense and which-team-will-show-up dynamic taking on the Trojans with size and momentum, coming off a Pac-10 tournament title.
While the flex seems to give fits to teams that are not used to defending it, USC seemed to adjust well to it and shut the Eagles down in the second half to coast into the second round, 72-55. USC’s Taj Gibson went 10-10 en route to 24 points to lead his team to the victory.
The “bad” BC team appeared to show up Friday as they made very little effort to get the ball into the paint and seemed content to take outside jumper trip after trip down the floor. They have a tendency to lapse for minutes at a time and lose leads or play themselves out of games at times, which they did Friday. This team can seemingly beat anyone (see the defeat of then #1 UNC on the road and #6 Duke at home) or lose to anyone (Harvard at home, coming off the UNC win).
Coach Al Skinner has never been one to go deep into his bench and tonight was no different with starters Tyrese Rice, Corey Raji, Joe Trapani, Josh Southern, and Rakim Sanders logging good minutes. The bench only scored seven points, but surprisingly outscored USC’s bench, who managed only a single bucket. The Eagles free throw shooting kept them in the game, going a fine 13-14 from the stripe.
However, their shooting was their undoing, going 33% from the floor, including a miserable 6-23 from downtown. Raji led the team with 15 points and Trapani added 12 and each chipped in seven boards. USC bracketed Rice with big guards and really made him ineffective at running the offense. He finished with nine points, four assists, six turnovers, and three rebounds.
Despite this loss, the Eagles and Coach Skinner should be commended as they looked like an NIT team before the season began. To break 20 wins and go .500 in a top-heavy ACC to even make the big dance was a feat in itself. They were probably a bit overseeded at seven as they looked more like an eight or nine, but this was a managable game. USC and the Pac-10 seem to be proving doubters wrong with good performances across the board so far.