Official visits are wrapping up, basketball is back from a rough weekend in the Pacific Northwest, and a number of Trojans had notable performances in Saturday's Senior Bowl. Sunday's links and notes:
The USC men's basketball team lost to Oregon on the road Saturday, 67-57, after momentum shifted on a critical technical foul call on graduate manager Stan Holt. A report in the Oregonian posted immediately after the game had USC coach Kevin O'Neill firing Holt on the spot. It was a crucial moment in the game, and O'Neill took full responsibility Saturday, saying: "That's on me and that will be rectified. It already has been. He's gone. If somebody's getting a technical foul, it's going to be me." Sunday, he confirmed that the manager had been fired, and added this about the reasoning behind his decision: "I’m not saying that it lost us the game, but it changed the momentum of the game. But it wouldn’t have mattered if we were up 20 or down 20. He has no business talking to the officials, nor does anybody on our bench except me."
Back at the Galen Center, the Women of Troy had a five-game winning streak snapped by Oregon on Saturday. Ducks guard Taylor Lilley made nine three-pointers and scored 36 points in all; Ashley Corral led USC with 22 points. The USC women hadn't lost since a Jan. 8 blowout to Stanford at home, but they still sit pretty with a 7-2 record in conference play.
Former Trojans running back Stafon Johnson completed his inspiring road to recovery Saturday, returning to the football field in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. He gained four yards on his first carry for the South team. Johnson finished the day with three yards in four carries as the South lost to the North, 31-13. Former USC safety Taylor Mays had an interception off an ill-advised pass from Sean Canfield, and ex-USC tight end Anthony McCoy had one catch for four yards. Offensive guard Jeff Byers played in the game, while offensive tackle Charles Brown was in Mobile for the week of practice but didn't play in the game.
The final weekend of official visits is officially in the past. USC hosted a reported12 recruits for their officials over the weekend. With Signing Day less than 72 hours away, the recruiting process has reached the final stretch. USC currently has verbal commitments from a whopping 12 recruits — plus two early enrollees in Kyle Prater and Dillon Baxter. For a frame of reference, the Trojans had 18 signees last year.