Just minutes before USC was set to tip off against Stanford in a crucial Pac-12 contest in Santa Cruz on Thursday, a suspected case of coronavirus within the men's basketball program forced USC to postpone the game.
USC had just gotten around to rescheduling its first matchup with Stanford, which was also postponed in December because of COVID-19 issues within the program. That game is slated for Feb. 2.
A confirmed positive test could lead the Trojans into another prolonged pause on account of the coronavirus. USC is scheduled to play at California on Saturday and has games scheduled for next week at home against Oregon State and Oregon. Its initial rescheduled meeting with Stanford could also be in danger if a full two-week shutdown is required.
Additional PCR testing will be performed in the wake of Thursday’s postponement to confirm if the case is indeed positive. If USC clears that testing hurdle, it would be able to play Saturday.
If not, USC could be faced with its second shutdown in less than six weeks. The Trojans' schedule was first upended on Dec. 13, when a single positive case of coronavirus forced the program to pause all activities. The shutdown meant postponing two conference games and cancelling two nonconference games.
The Trojans went three weeks between games, but won seven of eight after the pause, before losing on Tuesday to Oregon State.
USC (11-3 overall, 5-2 Pac-12), which began the day two games behind UCLA (7-0 Pac-12), has 12 scheduled conference games remaining. A two-week pause would make completing that entire slate difficult, as it would be forced to pack several postponed games into just five remaining weeks of the regular season.
The Trojans have played three games in a week twice this season and were set to try again this week prior to Thursday’s postponement.
USC lost its Pac-12 opener against Colorado in the midst of its first three-game week, then nearly dropped a Tuesday matchup with Riverside two weeks later at the start of its second stretch of three games in five days.
This week, with three Pac-12 games on the docket, its offense went ice cold in Corvallis, Ore., as the Beavers ended the Trojans’ six-game win streak.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.