LOS ANGELES – After suffering a defeat against UC Irvine on November 14th, the USC Trojans aim to come back stronger with Boogie Ellis and Kobe Johnson returning to the lineup against Brown. In the previous game, Isaiah Collier scored 23 points but also had 7 turnovers, he improve his performance tonight with Ellis and Johnson back on the court. DJ Rodman, who played for 31 minutes in the last game but did not score any points, did not play for USC on Sunday.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Ellis and Johnson return to the lineup
The Trojans welcomed back Boogie Ellis and Kobe Johnson, who had missed the previous game due to injury. Despite their return, the offense of the Trojans struggled in the last game to find consistency and relied heavily on Collier to lead the team, who was only playing his third college game. This led to their loss against UC Irvine last Tuesday.
The offense was performing exceptionally well in the first half, with Ellis leading the team with 16 points while shooting 4 out of 5 from beyond the arc. Ellis’s return to the court, along with Johnson’s comeback, has significantly boosted the entire offense. Johnson scored 7 points in the first half, shooting 3 for 6 from the field.
USC started off strong, shooting an impressive 61.5% from three and leading by as much as 15 points in the first half. However, they began to slow down and turned the ball over five times. Brown, on the other hand, was able to capitalize on second chance points, scoring 11 compared to USC’s 2. They also dominated the paint, scoring 12 points. Brown played exceptionally well early on, making plays on both ends of the court. In an effort to rally his team, Trojans head coach Andy Enfield called a timeout in the middle of the first half. After the timeout, Collier hit two big threes in a row and looked more composed on the court, especially after coming off a game with 7 turnovers.
In the first half, Brown G Kino Lilly Jr. led the Bears and controlled the tempo of the game. Despite facing a deficit, the team kept fighting and managed to cut it down to 3 points by halftime. Brown F Nana Owusu-Anane also played a crucial role, scoring 9 points and grabbing 8 rebounds in just 13 minutes of play. Their efforts helped keep the team in the game.
Despite being down by 15 points in the first half, the Bears didn’t give up. Kino Lilly Jr. was able to even up the game at 66 with just 4 minutes and 54 seconds left on the clock thanks to a three-pointer. The Trojans saw their lead slip away when their shots stopped hitting the mark, allowing the Bears to make a comeback. Ellis was able to secure the win for USC, scoring a three-pointer with just one second left on the shot clock, giving them a 79-70 lead with less than a minute to play.
USC’s backcourt is the real deal
The team’s offense was in top form during the game, with Ellis leading the charge and scoring a team-high 28 points while also making 6 three-pointers. Collier also had an impressive performance, scoring a career-high 24 points with an 8/14 field goal record and only four turnovers throughout the game. After being out for two games due to an injury, Kobe Johnson made a strong comeback with 14 points in the game and shot 4 for 11 from the field.
On the night, USC made 21 of 32 free-throw attempts, while Brown only hit 11 of 18. The Trojans also made 12 of 24 three-pointers and played great defense as a collective holding the Bears to 27.3% from three in the game.
On Sunday, Collier undoubtedly showcased his best performance yet. While he had played well in the previous three games, he struggled to keep up with the pace of the college game, resulting in 17 turnovers. However, in this game, he demonstrated remarkable improvement in his ability to play off the ball with Ellis and Johnson back on the court. His shooting skills were impressive, hitting back-to-back threes in the first half, and his agility was evident as he drove the lane for an emphatic and-one bucket with his unique and creative playing style.
This is the fifth year for Ellis at USC and he is only getting better as he is understanding the game flow a lot better than last year. During our conversation with Ellis postgame, he was asked about the development of his finishing game over the summer. Before he could answer, Johnson stepped in to praise his teammate’s performance.
“He’s that motherf*.” Johnson said.
Ellis came off a season high in scoring, and he shared his thoughts on his ability to finish at the rim with contact.
“I spent a lot of time in the summer, working on my finishing.”
Kobe Johnson suffered an injury during the season opener. When asked about his current condition and any potential setbacks, he provided an update.
“I’m good enough to play, so, if im good enough to play, I’m going to be out there with my family.”
Collier, Ellis and Johnson had a combined of 66 points in the game to lead the Trojans to their third win of the season.
Coach Enfield is pleased with the improvement made by his team
Even though the team was able to come out victorious, he emphasize on how important it is to stay healthy moving forward. He stated that at times, he only has 8-9 players available to practice which has been difficult early in the season.
“We hope to get healthy, we hope to be able to have some continuity with our practice and improve as a team.”
Enfield talked with The Sporting Tribune about Collier bouncing back with a career night 24 points against Brown.
“He’s a talented freshman but he has a lot to learn.”
Collier had missed 12 shots in the last game with those brutal 7 turnovers, Coach Enfield talked about how he improved during practice this weekend and it showed today on the court. While improving on both sides of the ball is important said Enfield, he understands that it’s early in the season and Collier will step into the moment when needed.
“I saw a lot of growth from him tonight, some of his decision making was much better than what it was prior.”
The Trojans can’t wait to have Bronny James in the line-up as he was a full participant during warm ups today, which was the first time this season since he suffered cardiac arrest during a workout at USC in July.
“He was great, he went through warmups today with the team, and he is a big part of our program, part of our team. He’s a terrific teammate. Look forward to hopefully one day getting back on the court, but when is that day? It is not my decision, so we are going to be patient and go through the process.”