USC dominates Oregon State, 82-54, behind Rodman’s big performance

USC put an end to their six-game losing streak with an 82-54 victory over the Beavers, thanks to a big performance by DJ Rodman.

LOS ANGELES — The USC Trojans are recovering from a disheartening defeat against Oregon on Thursday evening. Coach Andy Enfield was quite critical of his team during the postgame press conference. In an effort to break their six-game losing streak, Enfield made a new change by opting to start Bronny James instead of a struggling Kobe Johnson.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

Bronny back in the starting lineup

Kobe Johnson has been struggling to score points in the last two games for the Trojans, only managing a combined total of 10. Coach Enfield made some adjustments to break the losing streak, keeping Arrinten Page in the starting lineup and adding James. James made an impressive start to the game with a drive to the basket, finding Page for a slam. He’s been playing well lately, having achieved a career high of 7 assists against Oregon. In the first half against the Beavers, he scored five points and provided three assists in just 13 minutes.

During the early stages of the season, Page was not receiving sufficient playing time on the court. This led to his frustration, and Enfield addressed the issue by suggesting that players should focus more on playing harder during practice to earn themselves a spot on the court. Page responded positively to this advice by playing with a lot of energy on both sides of the court and eventually earned a place in the starting lineup. Although he had three turnovers in the first half, he played efficiently during the nine minutes of play.

Recently, Oziyah Sellers has become a standout player for the team, earning a spot in the starting lineup. His scoring ability and talent for making plays benefit the team greatly. DJ Rodman, whether starting or coming off the bench, consistently contributes by doing the little things that often go unnoticed on the stat sheet. His defensive skills and rebounding have proven invaluable to the Trojans.

In the last six games, USC’s defense has not performed to the best of its abilities. However, after coach Enfield’s stern words following a loss on Thursday, the team woke up and began securing stops on defense. During the game against Oregon State, the Trojans maintained a double-digit lead throughout the first half. They dominated the rebounding game and controlled the paint. While Jordan Pope of Oregon State managed to keep his team in the game with 9 points on 3 of 3 shooting from the field during the first half, the Trojans limited the Beavers to 39.1% shooting from the field and forced them to commit 10 turnovers during the same period.

Johnson was not brought into the game until late in the first half when his team was already leading by 11 points. He did not appear to be motivated to play. Coach Enfield has talked about his players’ body language before, and it was evident in Johnson’s case. Johnson eventually made his first two points off a fast break opportunity with just a minute left in the first half.

Boogie Ellis played for a team-high of 18 minutes in the first half but only managed to score three points on 1-of-4 shooting from the field. He was seen limping to the bench in the middle of the first half after a collision on the court.

Kijani Wright came off the bench and gave the Trojans a significant boost by producing a team-high of seven points in the first half. He was also a key part of the defense that held the Beavers to a total of 23 points. At the end of the first half, USC led 38-23, and the Trojans bench dominated the Beavers by outscoring them 19-4. Second chance points were crucial for the Trojans to capitalize on, and they did, scoring 14 points compared to the Beavers’ five points.

USC did not look back in the 2nd half

During the game, the Trojans were leading by 15 points at the start of the second half. However, James managed to hit a three-pointer right in front of his bench. Moments later, he made a great pass to Ellis who also scored a three-pointer, giving USC a 46-27 lead with 16:27 to go in the game. It took a few games for the Trojans to get going, but eventually, Enfield found a strategy that worked for him. Sellers played aggressively and well on both sides of the ball, getting plays called for him and converting them.

Every USC player looked to be locked in during the second half, and the ball was moving in all directions as they exploded on offense. They led 74-43 with 6:34 to go in the game. Rodman was everywhere in the second half, collecting 12 points and 14 rebounds in the game. His energy was contagious, and the whole team participated in their most exciting win of the year.

At one point in the middle of the second half, Enfield was seen chatting with someone sitting on the baseline while the game was going on. The bench was jumping up and down during all the big plays of the game, which they hardly do throughout the game.

It’s possible that it’s too late to turn the season around and make a run late in the season, but this upcoming month could showcase the talent that USC has in this team. Hornery really came out in the second half, scoring aggressively and making 4 of 5 free throws. He ended the game with a team-high 14 points and 4 rebounds after going scoreless in the first half and not playing on Thursday night. Page fouled out early in the second half after picking up three fouls in a span of thirty seconds. He finished with two points, 2 rebounds and three assists.

Johnson had another off game, only contributing four points, one rebound, and four assists in the win over the Beavers. Coach Enfield mentioned after the game that it was tough to bench one of his captains, but he was trying to win a game. Enfield gave his thoughts on Johnson’s performance on Saturday night

“I thought he had a lot of energy when he came into the game, four assists and no turnovers, missed a couple of easy shots. I thought he was very effective and played great defense.” said Enfield postgame.

USC scored 40 points in the paint during the game, while the Beavers scored only 16. Iwuchukwu sprained his ankle during the game and was advised by the doctors to sit out the rest of the game. He will be reevaluated later this week before they go on the road to face Cal on Wednesday night. Iwuchukwu managed to score five points and grab one rebound before leaving the game.

James and Sellers both had a significant impact on the game on both offense and defense, especially their ability to defend Jordan Pope. Although Pope had a perfect shooting record (4 of 4), he struggled to find open space as he was constantly chased down by James or Sellers. Enfield spoke highly of Seller’s potential as a main scoring option moving forward, after he finished the game with 12 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists.

James has taken on the role of point guard in the last two games, recording 13 assists during this time.

“He’s a freshman and to go through what he did, he missed a lot of time,” Enfield on James’ performance against Oregon State. “He’s a young player and we’ve seen a lot of growth out of him, at least I’ve had.”

Ellis finished the game with six points, one rebound and three assists while playing 34 minutes in the win on Saturday night. He shot 2 of 7 from the field and Johnson shot 2 of 8 as both captains had off nights in a blowout win at home to end their six-game losing streak.

What’s next for this 9-13 Trojans team

Enfield made multiple lineup changes, which finally worked against the Beavers. However, continuing their excellent play against Cal will be difficult. This team has had a major problem with consistency this season, as they have played great in one game and not shown up in the next game. Currently, Enfield is excited to see what he can do with the team, especially when Collier returns to action. Collier is expected to return in the next week or so and has been warming up on the court before the last two games. He is progressing better than expected.

Sellers’ role with this team will grow as his confidence is building and he can become the scoring option that the Trojans need, but consistency is key for this team. James will continue to improve as he has been taking care of the ball a lot better over the last few games. There’s definitely hope within the team but it’s up to Enfield to keep his players in line moving forward.

Enfield is likely relieved with the way his players responded after their loss to Oregon. In their game against the Beavers, the USC defense held them to just 54 points, a significant improvement from the 86 points they allowed them to score on December 30th. Additionally, Oregon State shot 34.6% from the field and 27.8% from three-point range during the game. Moving forward, Enfield will most likely keep the same starting lineup consisting of Ellis, Page, Morgan, Sellers, and James, as he was impressed with their teamwork during the game.

The Trojans are scheduled to play their next game on the road against Cal, a team with a similar season record through their first 22 games. Cal has allowed 77.0 points per game and scored 75.0, while the Trojans have scored 74.2 per game and allowed 74.9, with both teams having a 9-13 record for the season.