How USC men’s basketball is handling leading the Pac-12 – Orange County Register

For a team picked to finish sixth in its conference, USC men’s basketball is in pretty good shape heading into the final nine games of the season.

At 15-3 and 9-2 in conference play, the Trojans are tied with UCLA atop the Pac-12 standings, but currently hold the tiebreaker due to Saturday’s 18-point win over the Bruins.

Ranked 20th in the country, USC is the lone Pac-12 team in the AP Top 25.

So with less than a month to play, the Trojans are in the driver’s seat with their first regular-season conference title since 1985 in sight.

“It’s a goal of ours to try to compete for a Pac-12 championship. We’re excited to be where we are,” USC head coach Andy Enfield said. “But we also understand it’s a long season ahead. Nine games is a lot.”

In many ways, USC is playing its best basketball of the season. The Trojans are winners of 10 of their past 11 games. In the most recent four-game winning streak, standout freshman center Evan Mobley is averaging 17.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game.

And the supporting staff around the 7-foot Mobley is stepping up when needed. Guard Tahj Eaddy is averaging 13.9 points over the past six games and provided clutch shots to help the Trojans top Stanford last week. Forward Chevez Goodwin has been relentless on the boards, grabbing 10 rebounds in a win two weeks ago over Oregon State.

And USC is finally seeing a healthy version of point guard Ethan Anderson, sidelined for six weeks due to a back injury, at one point feared to be fractured vertebrae. In his first six games back from the injury, the sophomore point guard was clearly struggling to get back in shape, not his usual pesky self on defense or penetrating driver on offense.

But against UCLA, Anderson came to life with a career-high 19-point performance to get the Trojans their first win over a ranked opponent.

“I’m still getting back in my groove, trying to find my rhythm,” Anderson said.

USC will look to continue its hot streak on Thursday at Washington (3-14, 2-10). The Trojans made short work of the Huskies in January with a 95-68 win.

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