The Trojans defeated Alabama State in a 79-59 victory, ending a three-game losing streak. USC was favored to win by 18.5 points before the game and now heads back home before their next game on December 28th in Oregon.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Terrific first half by the Trojans
USC made an impressive start, scoring 13 points while their opponents, struggled to get their footing. The atmosphere in the arena was electric as the Trojans played a competitive first half. In their previous game against Auburn, USC had faced some issues with their defense, but in the first half of this game, they played like the team everyone had been expecting all year long. Their defense was impressive, and they managed to keep their opponents off the boards and boxed out while rotating quicker on defense.
One of the players who had been struggling with his shooting in the past few games was Kobe Johnson. However, in the first half of this game, he redeemed himself by scoring an early seven points, which helped setting the tone for the rest of the team. Johnson’s performance was crucial to the team’s success, and his confidence seemed to be restored as he found his rhythm on the court.
Overall, the USC team played an excellent first half, showing their opponents and the crowd what they were capable of. The game was far from over, then the Pac-12 leading scorer when out due to an injury.
During the game, Boogie Ellis suffered a hip contusion and had to leave early. He did not return to the game and will be reevaluated later this week. On the other hand, USC’s Joshua Morgan had an excellent defensive game from the beginning, as he controlled the inside and defended well around the rim. Morgan’s four early blocks helped the Trojans get going in the first half.
Coach Andy Enfield successfully implemented a strategic game plan against Alabama State, resulting in a remarkable defensive performance that limited them to only 19 points in the first half. Alabama State struggled to make shots in the first half, as they only managed to hit 7 of 33 attempts. As a result, they found themselves in a difficult position against the Trojans early on but crawled back in the second half.
Despite struggling without Ellis, the Trojans managed to win
During the second half of the game, Alabama State made a strong comeback and went on a run of their own. They picked up their pace and managed to reduce the lead to 13 points, making it a closer game. Ellis had to leave the game due to an unfortunate incident. He limped back to the bench and was unable to return to the game. Despite this setback, the Trojans continued to dominate on the court and were able to easily cruise past the Hornets.
TJ Madlock scored a game-high 17 points for Alabama State, while Isaiah Range added 13. The Hornets had serious issues making shots, hitting just 23 of 70 attempts from the field and 8 of 27 from 3-point range. In addition, USC was controlling the inside with 52-39 on the boards and outscored the Hornets 44-19 off bench points. Coach Enfield was able to give his bench some action on the floor.
Bronny James, in his third game looked more comfortable with his teammates and showed signs of improvement from his previous games. He made two three-pointers, finishing with a total of 6 points after scoring 4 in his first game and 5 in his second game. James played a season-high 17 minutes and in addition to his scoring, he also collected 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal in the win over Alabama State. His performance on the court is a positive sign for his team and fans, as he continues to grow and develop his skills as a basketball player.
USC had a well-rounded performance with eleven players contributing to the scoring effort. Arrinten Page, who came off the bench, scored 12 points, while Isaiah Collier and Kobe Johnson each contributed 11 points. Boogie Ellis, who is the team’s leading scorer with an average of 21.4 points per game, only scored two points in this game. Collier did an excellent job of securing the ball and only had one turnover all night, while James had three turnovers, including a questionable charge.
Enfield responded after being criticized with the slow start
Andy Enfield has been USC’s head coach for 11 seasons and has won 210 games while losing 134. His win total places him fourth on the all-time wins list for USC, behind Sam Barry (260), Forrest Twogood (251), and Bob Boyd (216).
Andy Enfield became the USC’s head coach on April 1, 2013, and quickly led the team to success. Despite having a star-studded lineup this year, Enfield is facing more pressure than ever. He has taken USC to the tournament in recent years and has made the basketball program in Los Angeles a desirable destination for players. However, the team’s disappointing start to the season has been a setback. But there is still time to turn things around, starting with the game against Oregon next week.
Gaining the talents of Collier and James this season, and with Johnson and Ellis, USC’s expectations were sky high entering the season. Even though James just got back on the court, Enfield expects big things from him this season.
“He’s a terrific shooter,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “He just needs to be able to shoot when he gets winded. Tonight it was nice to see him because he was able to run up and down the court and was able to make a couple of threes when he was somewhat tired.”
When James gets more opportunities to practice and play in games, he will be added to the starting line-up because he is skilled at playing both offense and defense. The team needs to focus on improving their defense if they want to compete with the top programs in the country.