How Sweet (16) it is

With an 87-68 victory over the Longhorns, this year's Trojan team set a school record for wins with 25 and they will get a chance to meet North Carolina in the Sweet 16.

As the game starts and I'm starting to fully realize that the Trojans must take on Kevin Durant for 40 minutes, I'm getting less and less exciting. The good news is that the Trojans' defense should be as well prepared to guard him as any team he's faced.

Hackett drains a three on the first possession after a Taj Gibson offensive rebound. Hope that shooting is a sign of things to come.

Lodrick Stewart hits a two and Gibson goes up for a slam on the next possession. The Trojans are off to a fantastic start and sure don't look scared of the Longhorns.

Pruitt nails a three. I'm not sure what the over/under was for this game, but I'd like to get a bet in on the over. It's 12-7 Trojans.

Stewart hits a three and Pruitt comes up with a steal before Nick Young turns the ball over on a carry. It's been amazing to watch the Trojans get called for so many carries during the past two games. Young really needs to work on that, because obviously the referees are picking up on something.

Well, we're almost five minutes in and there's the first video of Vince Young scoring the final touchdown of the Rose Bowl. I can't tell you how excited I am to see that.

The Trojans have been extremely active defensively. They just gave up back-to-back offensive rebounds, but they've been knocking away passes and dribbles all day. Texas can be very loose with the ball, and obviously the Trojans are aware that they can create some turnovers.

Dwight Lewis and Lodrick Stewart miss wide-open three pointers to keep the lead at 19-13. If those shots start going down, USC could truly run away with this game. They look far superior to the Longhorns right now. Durant hasn't really done anything yet and the Trojans' guards are keeping Augustin's impact to a minimum.

And now we're watching Kansas – Kentucky. If I could care less about that game, it would surprise me.

Nick Young buries a three after some great penetration and a pass from Gabe Pruitt to push the lead to 24 – 13 Trojans. I don't think Tim Floyd could have asked for a better start. It's over 12 minutes into the game and Kevin Durant has been held to just four points and has been kept away from the basket by guys like Daniel Hackett and Dwight Lewis. The Trojans are shooting the ball well and Taj Gibson looks like he's on his way to another great game inside. I'm not sure how many people believed the Trojans would hold an 11 point lead at any point in this game, but I know it's not a lot.

Pruitt comes up with another steal and gets fouled trying to convert the lay-up. The Longhorns simply look slow right now. They aren't adjusting to anything the Trojans are doing offensively or defensively, and I'm not sure it's from lack of trying. I think we're just seeing what this Trojan team is capable of doing when they're on their game. It's 27-15 with Pruitt going to the line after the break.

Hackett is having an amazing first half. He's four-of-four from the field for ten points and he's breaking down just about every defender Texas throws at him.

Durant is starting to heat up a little bit with just over four minutes remaining in the first half. Consider me worried.

Apparently the referees have decided that they'd like to be involved in a close game, with back-to-back outrageous offensive foul calls against Hackett and Gibson.

Nick Young gets sloppy again with his dribble and travels. He loses his concentration far too often and I'm not exactly a fan of his constant reactions. Don't travel or carry the ball and you won't get called for it. He's a good enough player that he should be getting calls for him all over the place, but I think the referees are a little soured on him by his negative reactions when he gets called for something.

Gibson throws the ball away and that's back-to-back turnovers for the Trojans. In fact, they have five turnovers in their last six possessions. That's not exactly a great way to wind down to halftime.

Nobody has scored in over two minutes and the game is starting to get very sloppy. I'm not sure who benefits the most from that, but the Trojans are still sitting on a ten-point lead. Check that. Abrams nails a three to send the game into halftime at 34-27 Trojans. USC absolutely fell asleep for the final five minutes of the first half. We've come to expect stretches like that from the Trojans, but it will be interesting to see how they come out in the second half. USC is shooting 52 percent from the floor, compared to Texas' 39 percent, and the Trojans hold just a seven-point lead. USC's defensive play is going to need to stay at the same high-intensity level they displayed at the first half. If they start letting up and that 39 percent starts climbing toward that 52 percent, this seven-point lead isn't going to hold. On the other hand, Texas hasn't really shown an ability to get anything done against this Trojan defense. And if that continues, Durant is going to have to be huge in the second half to keep his team in it.

Texas starts the second half by feeding the ball to Durant and letting him do whatever he wants. Get ready Trojans, you're going to be seeing that for the rest of the game.

There's a nice shot from Stewart to quiet this little Texas uprising. And after the Longhorns cut the lead to six, Nick Young nails a three off a feed from Hackett.

Hackett with a finish of a fast break and draws the foul on Durant. That is an absolutely huge play, pushing the lead to 42-30.

The Trojans are on a fantastic run right now. Keith Wilkinson finished off another fast break with a second-chance tip in and Nick Young hits two free throws, pushing the lead to 48-33. And the Trojans come back with a Gabe Pruitt steal and Nick Young flush, stretching it to a 16-3 run. Texas is absolutely lost offensively and the Trojans can't do anything wrong right now. We've seen this before, however. USC is capable of these huge runs, but they'll hit a wall at some point, and the game will be won or lost based on how quickly they can regroup when Texas starts coming back.

I really don't like seeing Taj on the bench with ice on his jaw. Wilkinson has been playing great today, but you have to think that Texas will start sending Durant inside with Gibson out of the game.

Of course, Gibson checks into the game right after that commercial break. I'm feeling better.

Nick Young has been an absolute force inside today. He's grabbing offensive rebounds and going up in traffic on seemingly every possession.

Taj Gibson hits two free throws to push the lead to 53-33. I'll take a 20-point lead over Texas anytime.

Durant picks up his third personal foul. He had one steal early in the game, but the Trojan guards have really had their way with him defensively. I'd like to see them keep making him play defense with those three fouls.

Dwight Lewis puts a great move on Durant and blows past him, forcing Damion James to pick up the foul.

Nick Young blows by Durant for a layup. There's something there every possession. There's no way he can be used to teams attacking him every time down the floor.

At this point, I'm just glad that CBS has had to keep most of their Vince Young footage in the can. Had Durant gone off and put up 30 points in the first half, the comparisons to Young would have been beyond nauseating.

With just over ten minutes left, it's 57-42 Trojans. These next four minutes are absolutely critical. If USC can keep this same lead when the clock hits six minutes, they should have the ability to close it out. If Texas goes on a big run now, anything is possible.

The CBS guys are right. If Taj Gibson and Daniel Hackett don't get some serious publicity after this game, it'll be a crime. I don't care if the Trojans hold on for the win, through 32 minutes of this game, they've played every bit as well as Kevin Durant.

Well, here we are with six minutes left and the Trojans holding a 16-point lead. The Longhorns are going with a full-court press, but the Trojans have so many skilled dribblers, Texas can't force any turnovers.

Taj Gibson has been the biggest reason that Texas' press isn't working. He's such a skilled dribbler for a big guy, even when he gets the ball in the back court under pressure, he never panics.

D.J. Augustin fouls out of the game on an offensive charge. The Trojans held him to 1-of-8 shooting, six points and about 100 turnovers. I'm pretty sure that Tim Floyd will take that.

Texas blows a two-on-none fast break and Gibson comes away with the rebound. When Rick Barnes watches tape of this game, those five second will suffice. That's the kind of game it's been for the Longhorns.

I still don't understand why the announcers are so shocked that the Trojans are winning this game. It's a five seed beating a four seed. It's not like it's a 16 over a one. They had to know that Texas was an incredibly flawed team outside of Durant. I mean, New Mexico State nearly took them out in the first round. If that didn't set off some alarm bells, I don't know what would.

Durant is running the point now for Texas. I'm guessing he'll be piloting the team charter home as well.

Daniel Hackett with a circus shot and one. The free throw gives him 18 points today and matches his season high.

It's all about free throws now, with three minutes left in the game. If USC hits them, they'll have no trouble winning this game.

Lodrick Stewart misses one of two free throws and Dwight Lewis follows that by missing two of two. The free throw shooting has been just a shade above "not good" today by the Trojans. They're hitting 67 percent from the line and have given away 11 points.

I'm in complete agreement with the CBS guys now, when they say that they were waiting for Texas to go on a run at some point in the second half to cut the lead down. I thought the Trojans had a great shot to beat Texas, but there's no way I would have guessed that it would be by 19 points.

At this point, you'd have a hard time finding a team with two more impressive wins in this tournament than the Trojans. They've yet to be truly challenged and they've shown they are capable of shutting down some pretty potent offensive attacks. North Carolina will present a much tougher challenge than Texas, but you can't argue with the momentum that the Trojans have gathered at this point.

It would be impossible to overstate Daniel Hackett's importance in this win. Not only did he pour in 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting. His defense of Durant kept the Texas offense out of sync all game long. The same goes for Taj Gibson, who went for 17 points and 14 rebounds, including five on the offensive end.

Nick Young led the Trojans with 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting and Lodrick Stewart and Gabe Pruitt each chipping in with ten. For the Longhorns, outside of Durant and Abrams, nobody scored more than six points. The Trojans' defensive effort was dominating today and the Longhorns had no answer for USC's up-tempo attacking offense.

I don't know if the nation is ready to recognize this Trojan team as being one of the best in the country, but at this point, thinking anything else is probably foolish. Everyone wanted to talk about the little slide the Trojans were on at the end of the regular season, but I don't know if any team in the Sweet 16 is playing to their potential the way the Trojans are. Count me as firmly entrenched among the believers.

Erik McKinney is a columnist for and he can be reached at Top Stories