Stanford dominates USC, 99-68, as the Trojans record drop to 9-15

Stanford defeated USC 99-68 on their home court. USC's record drops to 9-15 this season as lineup changes lead to inconsistency.

PALO ALTO, Calif. — The Trojans are trying to bounce back from their disappointing overtime defeat against Cal and regain their form as they prepare to face Stanford. The two teams had faced each other about a month ago at the Galen Center, where the Trojans had won 93-79. Collier’s 26 points had played a significant role in securing the victory against Stanford last month.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

New adjustments to start the game

Andy Enfield has made some changes in the lineup as Vincent Iwuchukwu and Isaiah Collier have been included again. Bronny James is still playing with the starters along with Rodman and Ellis. Collier has returned for his second game after recovering from an injury, and the chemistry between James and Collier is evident. They both came into this season with a goal to take the team to new heights, but unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case so far. James made his regular season debut on December 10th, five weeks into the season. Although they played a few games during that time, Collier had surgery on his hand at the beginning of the year.

During that time, Ellis and some of his team members had to miss games due to injuries and illnesses. However, now that the team is getting healthy, we can finally see their full potential. Unfortunately, during the middle of the first half, USC was unable to stop Stanford, resulting in a 25-0 run. This was a poor start for both their defense and offense.

Stanford G Andrej Stojakovic, son of the legendary Kings forward Peja Stojakovic, demonstrated great skills on the court. USC struggled to score for almost seven minutes, as Stanford dominated the game. With 5:29 left in the first half, Stanford led 43-15. Stojakovic, who averages 8 points per game, scored 14 points in the first half alone, including four three-pointers. Additionally, Stanford F Maxime Raynaud also played well in the first half, scoring 15 points, grabbing four rebounds, and making one assist.

In the first half, Iwuchukwu scored six points, grabbed two rebounds, and made two turnovers. Collier, on the other hand, struggled to get going and only contributed four points, one rebound, and one assist. He also went 2 of 6 from the free-throw line and had three turnovers. James had a slow start too, making only one shot coming from behind the three point line early in the game. However, he did manage to collect three assists and one rebound. Kobe Johnson has been struggling lately and has been benched for the past four games. In the first half, he only scored two points, while Oziyah Sellers failed to score any points.

During the first half of the game, Stanford won the rebounding battle 18-9, which was a significant factor in their early lead. USC struggled to defend against Stanford’s shooting, while shooting 63.2% in the first half, while USC only managed a 28.6% from three. At halftime, USC coach Enfield must have delivered an inspiring speech to his team about the importance of rebounding, as it has been a key focus for the team. Despite their best efforts, USC was unable to recover from their early deficit, and they trailed at halftime 55-26.

Same story, different half for the Trojans

In the second half of the game, USC did not make many adjustments. Their defense was still making mistakes, as players were consistently late on rotations and not communicating effectively on the court. The team attempted to make a comeback when Collier made two consecutive three-pointers. Later, James returned to the game and quickly intercepted a pass, leading to a breakaway dunk for his first two points of the second half.

Johnson had a few shots go in the basket, which is a good sign for him. His confidence needs to build up, so he can provide a spark to the team. Ellis looked good moving out on the court after dealing with a hamstring injury, but he could not help his team score on offense as he’s done for the past few seasons. Kijani Wright checked into the game and helped out with 7 points and 3 rebounds. He had energy playing on both sides of the ball. However, DJ Rodman couldn’t find a way to get involved in this game, even though he started tonight.

In their victory against USC, Stanford had four players who scored over 14 points. During the second half, Benny Gealer and Kanaan Carlyle played exceptionally well. Raynaud had a great performance too, scoring 29 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists while shooting efficiently, making 10 of 11 shots from the field. Stanford’s record entering the game was 11-11, which is not an impressive record, but they managed to take advantage of a team without a clear identity.

The chemistry between Ellis, Johnson, Collier, and James does not seem to suggest that they enjoy playing with each other. Although they are the best four players on the team, the limited time provided to these players makes it tough to build chemistry. Enfield has mentioned throughout the season that his players need to trust each other, which is crucial when trying to build a championship team. The Trojans have dropped back-to-back games on the road and need to address some serious issues as they aim to finish the season on a brighter note.

Johnson, Ellis, and Wright all scored seven points each. Unfortunately, their efforts weren’t enough to secure a win for their team. Ellis struggled with his shooting, going three for eleven from the field and only making one out of six three-point attempts. On the other hand, Collier managed to score 18 points, grab four rebounds, and dish out three assists despite the team’s 68-99 loss. USC made only six out of 20 three-pointers while allowing Stanford to make an impressive 19. Stanford’s Stojakovic finished the game with 20 points, shooting 8 out of 12 from the field.

What needs to change for this USC team

One of USC’s biggest problems lately has been a lack of leadership on the court. There are times when the captains are not very involved in the huddles and don’t motivate their teammates when needed. Coach Enfield cannot do everything for the team if they are unwilling to commit to it. With Collier back and healthy, he can be a player who can help elevate the team to greater things.

Bronny James has a lot of room for improvement, but he has been developing every day since he stepped onto the court in early December. He can be the weapon that USC needs to unleash. It’s clear that when James is on the court, the team performs better on both sides of the ball. James’ passing ability is surprising some people, but like his father, he can pass the ball well. When James is being aggressive and given the opportunity to be a leader on the court, he scores and gets his teammates involved, and the team looks in rhythm.

Ellis and Johnson are both talented shooters and capable of driving to the basket when needed, but they lack natural passing abilities. On the other hand, Collier is a remarkable player who excels at both shooting and passing. He is also adaptable and willing to make adjustments in order to win. James, however, is a skilled playmaker who has the potential to become the team’s point guard. Though Enfield recognizes James’ abilities, he is cautious due to a major health issue James dealt with during the summer.

James scored six points, grabbed three rebounds, and dished out three assists. So far this season, he has averaged 5.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists while playing for 20.7 minutes per game in 15 games.