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USC 75, Boston College 71: Three Up, Three Down

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The Eagles suffered their first home loss of the season Sunday, falling to the Trojans of USC 75-71.

Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The loss to USC on Sunday can be summed up in one word: frustrating. BC controlled the game for much of the first half, despite only leading by 4 at the break. The second half was another story. The Eagles simply couldn't find a rhythm from anywhere on the court and, as a result, have me rethinking my bold prediction of the Birds making the tournament. Below are three ups and three downs from Sunday's loss:

Ups

1) Dennis Clifford

The big man from Bridgewater had a solid showing Sunday afternoon, tallying 9 points while also pulling down 9 boards. While those numbers might not blow you away, it's the efficiency with which Clifford played that impressed me. Big Cliff only missed one shot, going 4-5 from the floor, and made his presence felt in the paint while he was on the court. The modest totals don't tell the whole story, as Clifford has been battling injuries for the past two years, and is clearly getting better game by game.

2) Free Throws

AYYYYY!!!! For the first time all year the Eagles shot a respectable percentage from the charity stripe. Overall, BC finished 14-18 from the free throw line, good for an incredible (by BC standards) 78%.

3) I'm not really sure...

The bottom line is there weren't many positives to take away from this game. Sure, Patrick Heckman played pretty well, but aside from that this was a pretty disappointing performance for the Eagles. They shot the ball well in the first half but couldn't keep it going for the second 20 minutes and it really showed. In a game that I expected them to win, rather easily, they came out and laid an egg.

Downs

1) Offense against the zone

Hopefully no future Boston College opponents were watching Sunday's game, because if they were, they now know exactly how to beat the Eagles. It seemed as though BC was completely blindsided by the Trojans switching to a zone defense and had no idea how to attack it. It's almost as if they didn't work on it at all during their week leading up to the game. There was no penetration whatsoever as the Eagles settled for contested threes over and over again. Coach Christian might need to implement a new zone offense because I'm not really sure what I was watching on Sunday. Syracuse must be licking their chops.

2) Three point shooting

After a couple of promising showings, in which the Eagles shot around 40% from three, BC relapsed to their old ways and put up an ugly 28% from behind the arc. Aaron Brown and Olivier Hanlan combined for 16 three point attempts, making only 3 between them. If the Eagles hope to compete in the loaded ACC then they will need to start hitting shots from outside because they simply don't have the post talent to be shooting below 35% from three.

3) Olivier Hanlan

Sunday's loss marked Hanlan's worst game of the year, and it wasn't even close. BC's undisputed leader finished with a respectable 15 points, but he did so on a game high 21 shots. The beloved Canadian just couldn't get in a rhythm and was forcing up shots throughout the contest. He did manage to dish out a season high 8 assists, but when the clock is winding down and the Eagles need a bucket, they need Hanlan to come through. I'm not about to start hating on Olivier because there's a solid chance we'd be 2-8 without him, but this definitely was not his brightest moment in the Heights. He'll bounce back though.

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Overall, this loss doesn't bode well for the Eagles' tournament hopes. A win against USC wouldn't really improve the resume, but a loss certainly hurts it. The Trojans aren't quite a tournament team, so losing to them on our home floor looks pretty bad. BC has one more tune-up game against UMass-Lowell before heading to Cameron Indoor to take on quite possibly the best team in the country: Duke.