LOS ANGELES — The Galen Center was the place to be as fans waited for 10 plus hours to enter to watch the Trojans and the Bruins, two teams that haven’t played against each other while both having a losing record in the last 20 years. UCLA lost its previous game against Arizona with a score of 77-71. UCLA has lost six out of its last nine games against the Trojans, including five consecutive losses at the Galen Center.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
USC with a troubling first half
The return of Boogie Ellis was a huge boost to the USC offense, as he had missed the previous three games due to a hamstring injury. Before Ellis’ absence, the team had been averaging 77.9 points per game, but this dropped to an average of 64.0 points per game during the three games he was out. The team has struggled with turnovers all season, but this issue was particularly pronounced during their most recent road trip, with an average of 18.3 turnovers per game without Ellis in the lineup and 13.1 turnovers per game with Ellis.
Ellis is the team’s leader both on and off the court. He had an immediate impact on the game by hitting two deep three pointers in the first few minutes, which got the crowd excited. Joshua Morgan, who is back in the starting lineup, is also regaining his rhythm. His presence inside the court was missed, and he made a statement on the defensive end in the first half. Although Morgan only scored 4 points and grabbed 3 rebounds with 2 blocks against UCLA in the first half, he hit an open jump shot late in the first half that got him going for a second.
Bronny James was not included in the starting lineup for the recent game, despite being part of it for the previous three games. In the first half of the game, James only attempted one shot and failed to score. He was in the game for only seven minutes. However, he did get a technical foul after an impressive block, which he followed up by staring down the opponent. This was the only noteworthy moment from James in the first half.
During the first half of the game, the Bruins dominated the paint, scoring 14 points compared to the Trojans’ 4 points. Although USC made 7 blocks, it was not enough to stop the Bruins from taking a 37-26 lead into the locker room. UCLA shot 14 out of 35 from the field while the Trojans only made 9 out of 21 shots. The Bruins also had 10 offensive rebounds, while the Trojans had none. There were several moments in the first half when Andy Enfield was upset with his players for not getting back in transition defense and allowing the Bruins to score 11 second chance points. In contrast, the Trojans failed to score any second chance points.
During the first half, Kobe Johnson was not very involved in the game as he only attempted one field goal. Although he managed to score 3 points, grab 3 rebounds, make 2 assists and 2 blocks, he was one of the main reasons why USC was trailing by 11 points. Johnson is known for his excellent scoring abilities, but he was unable to adjust during the first half due to Ellis’ return. Ellis scored 8 points, made 1 assist, and 2 turnovers on 3 of 7 field goal attempts while playing for 16 minutes in the first half.
Wake up call for the Trojans in the second half
During the second half of the game, the Trojans faced a tough challenge as their five assistant coaches urged them to step up their game. All the coaches were coaching aggressively, and the atmosphere became very intense. Harrison Hornery did not play in the first half, but he was the first to check into the game in the second half. It is unclear why he wasn’t played in the first half, considering he is known for his ability to stretch the floor and play intense defense.
During Saturday’s game against the Bruins, Enfield used rotations that were different from the previous games. However, there were instances where several USC players had their heads down while they were trailing by double digits. The energy in the arena was low during the second half, as Ellis played for ten straight minutes to start the second half. He only attempted one shot and did not score for the rest of the game, finishing with 8 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists on 3 of 10 from the field. Furthermore, he had four turnovers, which was the highest among his team.
During the game against UCLA, DJ Rodman wasn’t able to perform as well as he usually does, scoring only one point in the first half and struggling to make an impact throughout the game. Despite his efforts, he only managed to score a total of 6 points, 4 rebounds and 1 assist, resulting in a loss for his team.
Throughout the game, USC players faced major foul trouble, which allowed the Bruins to make 14 of 18 free throws in the second half. Despite only having 8 turnovers, it was an ugly game for the Trojans and the worst of the season so far.
In the game, James scored only two points which came from the free throw line. However, he played good defense throughout the game. There were moments where the Trojans seemed confused on the court and there was no urgency in rebounding. Joshua Morgan ended the game with 6 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. Oziyah Sellers was the only player who scored in double digits, finishing with 10 points and 1 assist while shooting 3 for 3 from the field.
It’s surprising to see that no Trojan made more than three field goals in the game, considering the talent on the team. Ellis mentioned after the game that this was the first time he had ever experienced a five-game losing streak. Saturday night’s game against their crosstown rivals was the lowest scoring game of the season for the Trojans, as they couldn’t seem to score a basket at home.
Five game losing streak is on the line
The Trojans are currently waiting for Isaiah Collier’s return as he had to sit out the last few weeks due to a broken hand. However, Ellis seems to be fit to play now despite his hamstring injury. Enfield was questioned about James’ long absence from the game after receiving a technical foul and whether it had any impact on James’ performance.
“As I said, we know our players better than you do” said Coach Enfield postgame.
Enfield seems frustrated when discussing the team’s rotations and why certain players aren’t receiving enough playing time despite performing well. After the game, Ellis mentioned that some players on the current roster lack the same level of urgency and pride that the previous year’s roster had.
“I feel like sometimes we gotta have some more pride, at the end of the day, we had a lot guys on last year’s team that really knew how much it meant to us.” said Boogie Ellis postgame.
Ellis and Enfield both expressed their concerns about the lack of pride among some of the young players on the team. Enfield mentioned that Ellis and Johnson are the team captains and expects them to lead by example, helping their teammates improve and play better in the upcoming game.
The USC Trojans will be hosting the Oregon Ducks at the Galen Center, and the game is set to be another exciting primetime matchup that will be broadcasted on ESPN. Despite having a roster filled with talented players, USC has been struggling this season, and their record currently stands at 8-12.
The Trojans have faced several challenges this season, including injuries to key players and inconsistent performances on the court. However, they remain determined to turn things around and make a push as they enter play in February.
As for the upcoming game against the Ducks, USC will have to bring their A-game if they hope to come out on top. Oregon is a formidable opponent with strong players on both offense and defense. Nevertheless, the Trojans will have the home-court advantage, and they will be looking to capitalize on that as they try to secure a much-needed win.