We’re not going to sit here and tell you that a 37-point victory means USC is on the right track, or that the flaws of recent weeks have been sufficiently addressed. Although a win over California of 97-60 felt great, it doesn’t give any indication of the Trojans’ true position.
Cal is a terrible basketball team. Through 26 games, the Golden Bears are 323-23. They are possibly the worst Power Five conference team across the United States. Some teams, such as Louisville in ACC or Minnesota in Big Ten, are worse than Cal. USC hasn’t turned any sort of corner by thumping the Golden Bears on Thursday in the Galen Center.
This matchup did have some good news. Vince Iwuchukwu played only 18 minutes. He should be able reach his 25-minute ceiling against Stanford on Saturday, when he will be required to put in a strong performance inside the paint.
Boogie Ellis only played 30 minutes rather than going for 35-37 minutes. Drew Peterson, who always plays the most minutes for USC, played “only” 33 — still a lot, but a lighter workload than usual. Moreover, it’s not as though he was playing high-stress minutes in the second half. Everybody should be feeling fresh for Stanford, which will provide a more objective test of USC’s true status as a team in mid February.
Cal was the catalyst for the blowout. Kijani Wright, Oziyah Sellers, and Harrison Hornery They were able to spend meaningful minutes. All of them played at least 16 minutes each and received much-needed, live action. Assuming USC is still without Joshua Morgan against Stanford (Reese Dixon-Waters might be able to play against the Cardinal; we’ll see), the Trojans will need at least one of those three players to produce something. Over the next few weeks, Wright, Sellers, and Hornery will need to make some small but significant contributions for Andy Enfield.
USC Stanford is Saturday at 7 p.m. Los Angeles.