That might have had something to do with the early lackadaisical effort on defense by USC. The game started getting away toward the end of the first half when Washington (17-12, 7-10) hit 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions. The Huskies made 9 of 13 3-point shots in the first half. When Ryan Appleby hit the third 3-pointer in that series, it sparked a controversy. The shot went up just as the Huskies were called for a foul away from the ball. The referees originally appeared to be waving off the shot but, after a conference, called it good. That set off USC coach Tim Floyd, who ran at the official and got a technical. Appleby hit one of two free throws, giving Washington a 44-30 lead. The Trojans trailed 48-37 at the half. “We put ourselves in a hole early by not defending,” Floyd said. “It wasn’t one of our better defensive efforts. … I thought we didn’t get back defensively with our perimeter players, and we made some real mistakes in terms of location.” Washington’s lead swelled to 17 points early in the second half on a 3-point play by Quincy Pondexter. USC battled back to five points down behind the play of Young, who led the team with 26 points and displayed the wide variety of pro-style offensive moves that could help him leave early for the NBA after the season. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SEATTLE, Wa.- It almost seemed inevitable. In a nearly meaningless game with a showdown for second place in the Pacific 10 Conference looming Saturday, the Trojans were ripe for a letdown. “We’re playing for seeding, the coach said, and we never know how the tournament (selection) might go,” Nick Young said. “We might be shipped out to the East Coast to play against Florida.” Though it won’t impress the NCAA seeding committee, if USC had to lose a game than this was a good choice. The Trojans (21-9, 11-6) can still take second place in the Pac-10 by beating Washington State on Saturday in their final regular-season game. USC could also finish as low as fourth if it loses to the Cougars and Stanford beats Arizona. The game going on simultaneously across the state was actually more important to the Trojans. UCLA’s victory in Pullman set up the tiebreaker scenario that would put the Trojans ahead of the Cougars. Even the Las Vegas oddsmakers saw it, making Washington a favorite over likely NCAA Tournament-bound USC. The Trojans came out playing uncharacteristically weak defense, fought back into the game but played sloppily down the stretch in an 85-70 loss at Washington that equals the team’s worst defeat of the season.
LOS ANGELES – When USC takes the court Friday to face Arkansas in the NCAA Tournament, it will be unknown territory for each Trojan. USC players can only imagine the intensity – the last time the team was in the tournament was 2001-02, a year before senior Lodrick Stewart came around. Floyd said he invited Don Haskins to attend the game Friday. Floyd started his career as an assistant at Texas-El Paso under Haskins, who was immortalized in the movie “Glory Road” for starting an all-black team and winning the 1966 NCAA Championship over an all-white Kentucky squad. Floyd said he was unsure if Haskins would be able to make it to the game because of his health. He’s had multiple heart surgeries and needed to have part of his foot amputated due to complications from diabetes, according to Floyd. “He’s been through a lot,” Floyd said. “But we still talk four to five times a week, so I’d love for him to be there.” Floyd canceled practice for Monday, deciding to give the players two days rest after they played Thursday, Friday and Saturday in their run to the Pac-10 Tournament final. They did report to Galen Center to watch film on Arkansas. HASKINS INVITED NO PRACTICE 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Though the players lack NCAA Tournament experience, their coach does not. Tim Floyd has a 4-5 record in five previous trips with Iowa State and New Orleans. His last three tournament teams at Iowa State all won at least one game. “He knows how to prepare and get ready for big games such as this,” Wilkinson said. “I think that’s really going to help us, especially not having any (tournament experience) on the team.” Floyd’s last trip to the dance was in 1997, when he led Iowa State to the Sweet 16. Iowa State missed the tournament the next season, then Floyd left to the NBA to coach the Chicago Bulls. “It seems unbelievable it’s been 10 years, but it has,” Floyd said. “… It’s always an exciting time, a time I missed when I was in the NBA. I always paid close attention to the games and how my friends were doing around the country.” Sophomore forward Keith Wilkinson believes that the novelty of this week could be a positive as well as negative for the Trojans. “It will definitely be a little nerve-wracking for a lot of people because no one’s been in it,” Wilkinson said. “But I think that also brings a lot of fire and passion to the game because guys like Nick (Young), Gabe (Pruitt) and Lod, especially Lod being his senior year, want to prove they can step up and lead this team. If you want to go to the next level, what more perfect opportunity than to lead our team to the Final Four.”