LOS ANGELES – The Trojans suffered a tough loss against the Sooners during the Rady Children’s Invitational held on Black Friday. However, they were ready to bounce back and take on Eastern Washington at the Galen Center as they entered as -17.5 favorites. On the other hand, the Eagles are coming into this game after an 82-72 loss to Washington State on Monday night as they now are 1-5 this season.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
A triple threat guard combo, explodes in the first half
The Trojans lost to the Sooners in the last minute, putting them at 4-2 for the season. The Eagles had an average first half with former UCLA G Jake Kyman starting strong. USC needed to step up their defense, and they did so by forcing 7 turnovers in the first half, taking a 19-point lead into halftime.
During the first half of the game between USC and the Eagles, the Trojans kept the Eagles to a 43.8% shooting from the field and 38.5% from beyond the arc. USC managed to shoot 58.1% from the field, scoring a total of 52 points against the Eagles. Boogie Ellis had an impressive start to the game, scoring 19 points by making 5 out of 6 three-pointers in the first half. Joshua Morgan, who had showcased excellent defensive skills in the previous Rady Children’s invitational games, added 7 points and 5 rebounds in just ten minutes of play. On the other hand, Kobe Johnson had a slow start, scoring only 5 points with a 2 for 5 shooting from the field. Unfortunately, Collier didn’t contribute much to the team as he only managed to make 2 points on 1 of 4 shooting from the field and no turnovers.
In the first half, the Trojans played impressively and dominated the paint, scoring 20 points and 7 second chance points. The bench was also a crucial factor, adding 16 points to the scoreboard.
Bronny James was not seen during the entire first half of the game, but he arrived on the bench later. Coach Enfield mentioned that the James family will release a statement regarding Bronny’s absence. He also clarified that he is not in a position to make any statement on the matter.
A 54-point second half for the Trojans
Boogie Ellis has been the most consistent player for the Trojans throughout the first 7 games of the season. In the game against Eastern Washington on Wednesday, Ellis had a phenomenal shooting night, scoring a total of 8 three-pointers in the game. The Eagles were unable to stop him offensively as he dominated the court.
USC’s defense has been impressive in the first six games of the season, holding three out of six opponents to under 40% shooting. Oklahoma managed to score 50% on Black Friday, which is the highest percentage an opponent has achieved against USC in the last two seasons. In fact, this is only the third time a team has made 50% or more of its shots against USC’s defense during that period. Last season, USC was ranked 8th in the country for holding its opponents to 39.3% on shooting. Prior to Wednesday’s game, they continued their strong defense this season, with an overall average of 39.3% shooting by their opponents in the first six games.
USC showcased great defense on Wednesday night while blowing out the Eagles. They won 106-78 with Boogie scoring 28 points and 8 three-pointers, which is his career high. Kobe Johnson had 12 points and 7 assists, also marking his career-high in assists. Morgan, who had 10 blocks against Seton Hall on Thanksgiving day, failed to get any blocks in this game.
Despite not having an explosive night, Collier showed improvement by taking care of the ball and only committing two turnovers in the game. However, he did get into foul trouble with four late in the second half. Collier managed to dish out 6 assists, although he could have easily had 10 or more if his teammates had made open shots, as coach Andy Enfield mentioned after the game. The Trojans had a 31-point lead to start the second half after Ellis made a few three-pointers.
During the game, one of the players who really stood out was former UCLA G Jake Kyman. He showed his skills by scoring 25 points and making 7 out of 10 three-pointers. He played with great efficiency and collected 2 assists, while also making 9 out of 13 field goals. Another player who made a significant contribution was LeJuan Watts, who scored 16 points and 7 rebounds for his team. Despite their efforts, the Eagles could only manage to score 44.4% from the field and 38.2% from three-pointers. On the other hand, USC played exceptionally well and managed to score 50% from three-pointers and 57.1% from the field.
Collier takes step in the right direction
Coach Enfield spoke to The Sporting Tribune about Collier’s performance after a dominant 106-78 win against Eastern Washington. Despite scoring 15 points, Collier only had two turnovers during the game.
“He was able to be aggressive, make good decisions. Standard control and made the right play, and as I said, he should’ve had nine or ten assists because he made some plays.”
In Wednesday night’s game, Collier played for only 22 minutes but showed significant improvement in his game. He seemed more comfortable on the court in the first half than in the second. Not only did he take care of the ball on the court, but he also put in extra work off the court, as Coach Enfield shared his thoughts about it.
“Very appreciative that he watched some video this week and has made an effort to improve, that’s what college basketball is all about and we can expect him to keep doing it.”
Coach Enfield gave positive feedback after the game as they prepared for the big game against Gonzaga on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
After Wednesday’s game against the Eagles, five of the next six games for the Trojans will be away from the Galen Center. If you go back to the Rady’s Children’s Invitational in San Diego, USC is in a stretch of playing 7 of 9 games away from the Galen Center.