The No. 7 Trojans, who beat the No. 10 UCLA Bruins in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament on Wednesday, failed to overcome the No. 2 Utah Utes in the second round Thursday night, falling 80-72 at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas. In the 8-point defeat, the Trojans were outshot inside and outside the 3-point line, outrebounded by a margin of 35-31 and were beaten in terms of ball distribution with Southern California earning just nine assists to Utah’s 22. Head coach Andy Enfield complimented the Trojans overall effort, but criticized the lack of defensive execution, especially with Utah sophomore forward Kyle Kuzma scoring a team-high 23 points and grabbing seven rebounds. ”We didn’t play great tonight, but we played hard enough, especially in the second half to come back,” Enfield said, according to the Associated Press. ”Their players, like Kuzma, stepped up and had a big game against us and that’s what happens. You try to take something away or maybe their first or second option and if the third or fourth option beats you, then you lose.”Pac-12 Player of the Year and potential Wooden Award candidate Jakob Poeltl was effective, scoring 14 points and helping with eight rebounds and two blocks. The Utes were especially keen on defense, limiting the Trojans to just 37 percent from deep and limited the previously potent freshman Bennie Boatwright and sophomore Elijah Stewart to a combined 8 points off of 3-of-16 shooting. As for the Trojans’ bright spots, sophomore guard Jordan McLaughlin scored a game-high 24 points off of 9-of-16 shooting with two rebounds and a steal. Fellow junior guards Julian Jacobs and Katin Reinhardt added 16 and 13, respectively. And while the loss was hard for Jacobs, he emphasized the importance of moving on.“It’s what our coaching staff and the entire community around this team has emphasized — keep fighting,” Jacobs told the Los Angeles Times. And while the defeat may have knocked the Trojans out of Pac-12 title contention, they still are in the running for the NCAA tournament. They find out whether they will earn a spot in March Madness on Sunday.
Johannesburg, South Africa | AFP | An Africa Cup of Nations with new dates and an expanded 24-team line-up will take centre stage this year in the continent, but the hosts have still to be decided.CAF will announce next Wednesday whether Egypt or South Africa stage the June 15-July 13 tournament after Cameroon were dropped over preparation delays and security concerns.The date switch from January/February should end club-versus-country rows after a growing number of African stars were reluctant to leave their European teams in mid-season.Increasing the number of finalists from 16 has already had an impact with former whipping boys Madagascar and Mauritania qualifying for the first time.AFP Sport looks at what lies in store at national team and club levels during 2019 for the most popular sport in Africa.Player of the YearEgypt and Liverpool scoring sensation Mohamed Salah is set to retain the title in Dakar on January 8 with fellow Red Sadio Mane from Senegal his closest challenger.If Salah continues to score consistently he could challenge the record of former Ivory Coast and Manchester City star Yaya Toure, who was voted number one four consecutive times.Cup of Nations hostsThere is little to choose between Egypt and South Africa ahead of a fourth straight Cup of Nations to be held in a country not originally chosen as hosts.But one marked difference would be the weather with Egypt experiencing northern hemisphere summer heat in June and July while South Africa shivers in the southern hemisphere winter.Cup of NationsShould Egypt be named hosts, the record seven-time African champions would be favoured to go one better than 2017 when they lost the final to Cameroon in Libreville.Were South Africa to get the nod, the chances of Senegal and former champions Tunisia, Morocco and Nigeria lifting the trophy would increase.Champions League Holders Esperance of Tunisia, TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Al Ahly of Egypt have won seven of the last 10 finals and are among the favourites again.Ahly, under new Uruguayan coach Martin Lasarte, will be desperate for a first success since 2013 having lost the last two finals to Wydad Casablanca of Morocco and Esperance.Confederation CupNorth African clubs have won 10 of the 15 finals in the second-tier competition and trophy-holders Raja Casablanca of Morocco head a powerful challenge from the region.Few pundits are looking beyond Raja, Etoile Sahel and CS Sfaxien of Tunisia and Zamalek of Egypt as potential winners in the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League.Super CupHistory will be made when Esperance and Raja meet with Qatar becoming the first non-African venue for the annual match between the Champions League and Confederation Cup winners.Traditionally staged at the home of the CAF champions, the switch has angered Esperance supporters, particularly as the club turns 100 on January 15.Club World CupEsperance were the latest flops from Africa, crashing 3-0 to 2018 hosts Al Ain of the United Emirates and eventually finishing fifth in a seven-club field.The change to an August-to-May CAF club season from this year should offer more preparation time and, hopefully, mean less embarrassment for African champions.FIFA windowsThe first during March will be used for the final Cup of Nations qualifiers and there are a further three nine-day internationals windows in the second half of the year.Will Africa consider following the lead of Europe and introduce a CAF Nations League? It would be an improvement on African friendlies often shunned by Europe-based stars.Share on: WhatsApp Pages: 1 2