A decade after he led Florida Gulf Coast to the Sweet 16 and fueled the "Dunk City" craze, Andy Enfield's USC squad lost to his former team, 74-61, in Los Angeles on Monday night in the season opener for both teams.
Florida Gulf Coast's run at the end of the 2012-13 season -- during which the team became the first 15-seed to reach the Sweet 16 -- changed Enfield's career and the school's national presence. Out of state applications increased by 88% the following year, and the school's foundation launched a fundraising campaign that raised more than $100 million.
"Obviously, you talk about Coach Enfield, what he did in the two years he was at FGCU: He put us on the map," Florida Gulf Coast coach Pat Chambers told ESPN after Monday's win. "I think we're all grateful for him for what he did. And now we're the keeper of the flame."
Florida Gulf Coast was picked to finish fourth in the Atlantic Sun Conference's preseason poll, and USC was picked to finish fourth in the Pac-12's preseason poll.
On Monday, USC took a 21-10 lead in the first half before Florida Gulf Coast stormed back to tie the game at 22-22 with 5:16 to play before halftime. Florida Gulf Coast used that momentum and took control in the second half. With four minutes to play, FGCU had a 20-point lead.
"I thought we were prepared to play tonight, but it didn't look like it," Enfield said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "That's on me."
The Eagles shot just 38% from the field but forced 15 USC turnovers. Chase Johnston came off the bench and scored 20 points for Florida Gulf Coast. Boogie Ellis (19 points) was the only USC player who finished with more than seven points.
"We just didn't have it tonight," Enfield said, according to the Times. "There's not a lot else to say right now."
Chambers was hired earlier this year after the school fired Michael Fly after four seasons. Chambers was hired two years after he resigned from his job at Penn State following an investigation into allegations of inappropriate conduct. He said he was grateful for the opportunity.
"I won just walking out onto the court," Chambers said. "I was so happy to be a head coach again, and these players are phenomenal."
Entering the game, Chambers said, he knew Enfield and his impact on the program could be a "distraction," but Chambers said he told his players to relax after USC took an early lead.
"I told them to just take a deep breath to calm everybody down," he said.