USC aims to reverse early-season slide against Oklahoma – Orange County Register

LOS ANGLES — Andy Enfield tried to smile as he stood in a Galen Center tunnel after a recent practice and assessed the USC men’s basketball team’s recent slide.

“We knew we weren’t going undefeated,” Enfield said.

The Trojans, who suffered their first loss to seventh-ranked Texas A&M by 16 points on Thanksgiving weekend then stumbled at SMU by 17 points last Saturday, have dropped consecutive nonconference games for the first time in two years, their promising season hitting some early turbulence.

Shooting has gone cold. Backcourt depth has shriveled. And after debuting in the preseason top-10 for the first time in four decades, the Trojans fell to No. 25 in this week’s AP poll.

“It’s basketball, you know,” Elijah Stewart said. “We gotta overcome adversity. That’s what great teams do. That’s what we expect to do.”

The formidable stretch continues Friday night at Staples Center, where USC (4-2) tips off against Oklahoma in the Hoophall L.A. tripleheader, a second-year showcase organized by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Like SMU, the Sooners (6-1) are among teams receiving votes just outside the top 25, and the Trojans will need to reverse their dry spell to keep up. Oklahoma plays at one of the fastest tempos in the nation and leans on Trae Young, a 6-foot-2 homegrown freshman point guard who leads the nation in scoring with 28.7 points per game.

“We’re going to try to cut the head off the snake and make other players become All-Stars,” Stewart said.

During their two-game losing streak, the Trojans have averaged 57 points per game on 34 percent shooting, their lowest scoring stretch since Enfield’s second season with the program in 2015.

Players cycled through a variety of reasons, though they found most of them unsatisfying. No one worried about shot selection.

“They just haven’t been going in,” forward Chimezie Metu said. “They’re shots we want. Some of them are wide open.”

Jordan McLaughlin, the…

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