USC defeats Bakersfield, 85-59 in their home opener

Isaiah Collier, a USC freshman, delivered an impressive performance in only his second college game

LOS ANGELES – The Trojans are hosting CSU Bakersfield for their first home game at the Galen Center. After a victory against Kansas State in Las Vegas on Monday, they are eager to kick off the season on a strong note. They aim to secure their fifth consecutive season with over 20 wins.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

A strong first half for the Trojans

During the 2022-23 season, USC had a record of 22-11, including a 14-6 score in Pac-12 conference play. The Trojans are coming off their third consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. They look forward to a great year after signing Isaiah Collier, the consensus No. 1 men’s basketball recruit for 2023.

USC Trojans’ basketball team had a victory over Kansas State by 18 points, and Boogie Ellis contributed 24 points to the game. He exceeded his 1,000 points mark as a Trojan player. With this achievement, he became the 44th player to score more than 1,000 points in a USC uniform. Ellis joined USC for the first time in the 2021-22 season and played all 33 games with an average of 12.5 points per game, making 56 three-pointers.

As he enters his fifth year in college, his leadership qualities are much needed on this team. Additionally, Ellis has played in The Drew League over the past few summers, where he teamed up with former Trojans Nick Young and Isaiah Mobley.

The Roadrunners had a rough start in the game, as the Trojans took an early lead and were up by as much as 24 points in the first half. USC’s DJ Rodman had a perfect shooting half, going 4 for 4 from the field and 3 for 3 from beyond the arc. The Trojans capitalized on Bakersfield’s 9 turnovers in the first half, scoring 19 points off of them.

USC had a great night playing uptempo as they scored 16 fastbreak points and had the bench contribute with 11 points. Oziyah Seller was a standout player with 9 points, 2 assists and a 3/4 field goal rate. The Trojans held a commanding lead at halftime, outplaying the Roadrunners on defense and keeping them to a 0/8 shooting from three. USC’s overall shooting was impressive, with a 58.6% field goal rate and 85.7% from the free throw line.

Identical 2nd half for the Trojans

USC dominated the game and at one point, they were leading by 27 points in the second half. Defense played a crucial role in the Trojans’ victory as they managed to pick up 11 steals and force 15 turnovers. It’s worth noting that USC was without their best defender, Kobe Johnson. Despite this, USC only allowed 4 three-pointers, which is an impressive stat.

During the first half of the game, Collier didn’t commit any turnovers. However, in the second half, he quickly had three turnovers in a row, leading to his substitution. This proved to be a valuable lesson for Collier, especially considering that it was only his second game in college.

“Too many turnovers and too many defensive mistakes.” Collier said. “There’s always room for improvement.”

Coach Enfield spoke about Collier’s performance in his home opener and said that he has a lot more to learn. However, he is progressing just as expected.

“The hardest part of this level of basketball is decision making, it’s not skills set, is your decision making. Good players could get to where they want on the court and great players know what to do when they get there.” says Coach Enfield on Collier’s decision making.

In the Thursday night game, USC player Oziyah Sellers showed an impressive display of defense and shooting skills, scoring 16 points, grabbing 4 rebounds and assisting 3 times. With Kobe Johnson unavailable, Sellers had to step up and he did not disappoint. Joshua Morgan of USC also had a great performance, scoring 12 points and grabbing 4 rebounds. He shot well from the floor and scored two free throws.

In the second half, Bakersfield showed significant improvement by playing better and taking smarter shots. Kaleb Higgins led the Roadrunners with 19 points, while Cameron Wilbon scored 10 points. Bakersfield scored just 23 points in the first half, compared to 36 in the second.

However, only two players from Bakersfield scored in double digits, as the Trojan defense was strong. Coach Enfield expressed his appreciation for the USC students who showed up on a sold-out night at the Galen Center. He stated that their presence gave a home-field advantage, which was a key factor in the team’s 14-game winning streak last season.

Update on Bronny James and Kobe Johnson

USC freshman Bronny James is expected to get re-evaluated at the end of the month, with hope to see him back on the court by the end of the year. Coach Enfield was asked about the current status of Bronny and said it is not his place to make a statement and the James family will update the world when they are ready. LeBron James gave the world an update after the Lakers’ 108-107 loss to the Miami Heat earlier this week.

“He’s doing rehab. Every week he gets to do more and more and more. We have a big moment at the end of this month to see if we can continue to go forward. If he’s cleared, we’ll be not too long away from him being back on the floor and back with his teammates and practicing, with the notion of being back on the floor and playing in game situations.”

The Trojans won their second consecutive game, and their entire roster has yet to be available. Vincent Iwuchukwu, a 7’1 forward, had spinal surgery after last season and is expected back in the first half of this season.  

USC’s Kobe Johnson was injured during Monday night’s game, as he play exceptionally well and he is currently day to day and USC waits to hear from the doctors to see how Johnson is progressing with his left knee.

They are gearing up for their next home game against UC Irvine, which is on November 14th at 8pm. This game will be broadcasted live on the Pac-12 Network. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or just a casual spectator, you won’t want to miss out on this thrilling matchup.