USC Coach Kevin O'Neill, right, instructs guard Jio Fontan during… (Jayne Kamin-Oncea / U.S.…)
Eight days stand between USC and its next game, between its 64-50 loss to UCLA on Wednesday and a home rematch with Oregon State on Feb. 10.
The break provides the Trojans, who feature just a seven-man rotation, a chance for much-needed rest.
They won't practice too much, and, if they do, it will probably be light at best.
But while the time off could be considered a positive — and the Trojans (12-11, 4-6 in Pacific 10 Conference play) are surely glad for it — it also means their poor showing against UCLA will loom longer in their heads than they would like.
This is particularly for USC's starting guards, who played by far their worst game of the season in the rivalry rematch in Westwood.
Maurice Jones, Jio Fontan and Marcus Simmons combined to score just seven points on three-for-12 shooting — and USC set a season-low in total points.
They could argue that they simply missed open shots, but an objective observer would have noted an obvious mismatch in talent between those three and UCLA's foursome of Malcolm Lee, Lazeric Jones, Tyler Lamb and Jerime Anderson, who combined to score 33 points on 12-for-27 (44.4%) shooting from the field.
"Their guards are good, our guards are good," Fontan, a junior, said. "I'd bet money that our guards are just as good if not better than their guards. They just played a better game."
This is the second time in three games that Fontan was held scoreless; prior to the Arizona State game last week, that hadn't occurred in his collegiate career.
"I am shocked that Jio Fontan didn't score a basket tonight," UCLA Coach Ben Howland said after the game. "He's a very good player."
Fontan said he's in a shooting slump and that he just needs to "get back in the groove."
USC Coach Kevin O'Neill said he was pleased with Fontan's play after he moved Fontan from the shooting guard position to the point guard position for the UCLA game.
But O'Neill also said that what struggles Fontan, a transfer, and Jones, a freshman, suffer are due to a lack of experience, especially when facing UCLA's backcourt.
"All these guys, except [Lazeric Jones] have played a lot of minutes," O'Neill said, "and it's Jio's first time playing."
USC had just five turnovers, so ball-handling wasn't a problem, but the guards failed to pass the ball inside late to forwards Alex Stepheson and Nikola Vucevic, who combined for 32 points.
"At one point in the game," Vucevic said of USC's guards, "they did a good job penetrating and getting easy baskets for Alex and me, and then I think after [UCLA] crowded the paint, we settled for jumpers and that took us out of the game."
Vucevic said USC needs balanced production, which has been true in the team's wins, but O'Neill said the offense still has to run through its two 6-foot-10 forwards.
When it doesn't, USC has often dug itself deep into a deficit from which it cannot recover, as has happened recently, with USC having lost five of seven games.
The other aspect, though, is that USC is still struggling with the loss of guards, especially three seniors from last season's team, who have departed after recent seasons.
"We just don't have enough, as it stands right now," O'Neill said.