USC tries to rise to occasion in Colorado (Jan 15, 2017)
USC started its trip on Thursday hoping to secure its standing in the rankings. After a 22-point loss at Utah on Thursday, the No. 25 Trojans are hoping to salvage the weekend when they play at Colorado on Sunday night.
The Trojans (15-3, 2-3 in the Pacific 12 Conference) are playing their second straight game at high altitude. They did the same thing two years ago and suffered two blowout losses in those games.
The altitude is not friendly to the Trojans.
"You just try to get adjusted quickly," USC coach Andy Enfield told The Los Angeles Daily News. "It's a big advantage for Utah and Colorado."
The Trojans started the season 15-1, but have lost their last two games. They are looking to fix that against a Colorado team that is struggling after reaching the NCAA Tournament last season.
The Buffaloes (10-7, 0-4) are still searching for their first conference win after getting routed on their home court by No. 4 UCLA on Thursday night.
With plenty of season left ahead, Colorado is trying to put the loss to the Bruins in the rearview mirror.
"You can't get your head down; have amnesia," George King told reporters after Thursday's loss. "Can't go back in time and try to replay them. It's about who you have next."
The Trojans are trying to wipe out their recent play.
USC stayed in the top 25 after suffering a one-point loss to Cal on Jan. 8, but their chances of remaining ranked went away after the 86-64 loss to the Utes.
Their recent stumbles have come since the start of Pac-12 play.
USC can match its total number of conference road wins from last season if it can get past Colorado.
The Trojans beat a struggling Oregon State team earlier this month in Corvallis. Last season, they won only one conference road game outside of Los Angeles.
To win in Boulder, the Trojans are will need better play from their backcourt.
Guards Elijah Stewart and Shaqquan Aaron have struggled with their shooting since the start of conference play, but they are not putting too much pressure on themselves.
"It happens," Aaron told the Los Angeles Times. "It happens to the Kobes and Jordans of the world."
Shooting wasn't a problem for the Buffaloes against UCLA on Thursday night. They put up 89 points, but the fourth-ranked Bruins scored at will to win by 15 points.
Colorado stayed close for a half but couldn't sustain it in the final 20 minutes, and UCLA finished shooting 56.5 percent for the game.
"When you score 89 points in your own building, it should be good enough, but against UCLA it's not," Buffaloes coach Tad Boyle said after the game. "Not the way we defended UCLA."
Colorado has a signature win over a ranked team in Boulder -- a Dec. 8 victory over Xavier. If the Buffaloes want to get back to the NCAA Tournament they'll have to start racking up wins at home and on the road, starting with USC.
"Big game," Boyle said. "No question about it. We've got to dig deep and find out what we're made of on Sunday."