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USC smashes Florida A&M behind Onyeka Okongwu's record-tying performance

November 5, 2019

USC outscored Florida A&M by 28 points in the second half to earn a 77-48 victory behind a 20-point, 13-rebound, eight-block debut performance from 6-foot-9 freshman Onyeka Okongwu.

“He’s relentless,” USC head coach Andy Enfield said of Okongwu’s performance. “When that shot goes up, he’s going to be somewhere and it’s usually towards the basketball.”

Despite shooting 33 percent from the field and 11 percent from the foul line in the first period, USC led by one at the half. The Trojans shot nearly 56 percent in the second period. 

“We were our own worst enemy in the first half, but I thought the second half our guys came together and played like a team,” Enfield said.  

Florida A&M’s D.J. Jones scored a team-high 12 points and provided one of the night’s best highlights, slamming a left-hand jam over the top of USC guard Elijah Weaver in transition. Florida A&M converted on just 32 percent of its second-period field goals and turned the ball over 19 times.

The Trojans didn’t exactly put together a smooth performance either, committing 17 turnovers of their own. USC hit just around 61 percent of its free throws.

USC opened the second half on a 12-6 run, behind dominant play from its freshman trio of Isiah Mobley, Ethan Anderson and Okongwu. Mobley scored 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Okongwu’s eight blocks tied a USC record, an accolade the freshman collected without playing in the game’s final eight minutes.

Okongwu said, “That wasn’t my objective for the night, I just wanted to go out there and have fun, help my team win.”

When asked if he considered subbing Okongwu back in — up 26 points — to break the USC record for blocks in a single game, Enfield responded, “We’re not concerned about school records right now … he’s concerned about winning. If he wants to break the school record, he’ll do it next game.”

Senior forward Nick Rakocevic didn’t score his first points until the 13:30 mark of the second period. He forced a turnover seconds later, only to give the ball right back and then be subbed out. 

The Trojans started three freshmen Tuesday night — Isaiah Mobley, Ethan Anderson and Okongwu. Rakocevic and Weaver rounded out USC’s starting five. Senior guard Jonah Matthews came off the bench because he missed several classes, according to Enfield. 

“Our goal is to have him graduate on time, like every player we’ve ever coached here that’s stayed for four years,” Enfield said. “That’s the number one priority at USC basketball, our program.”

Matthews and Rakocevic combined to shoot 2-of-10 in the first period, totaling five points. Okongwu starred for USC in the first half, blocking six shots and gobbling 10 first-half rebounds.

USC took a 17-point second-half lead after freshman Max Agbonkpolo nailed his first shot attempt from beyond the arc. Agbonkpolo finished with 10 points in eight minutes on the floor, shooting 3-of-3 from both the floor and foul line.

Okongwu provided most of USC’s noteworthy plays throughout the first period. He picked up two rebounds on the Trojans’ first two defensive possessions and threw down an Anderson lob within the game’s first five minutes. 

Columbia graduate transfer Quinton Adlesh provided a strong spark off the USC bench, stealing and scoring just seconds after checking in for the first time. Weaver crossed over in transition and scored acrobadictly at the rim to ignite the Galen Center crowd, USC leading by three points after a 9-2 run.

What’s Next for USC 

Next up, the Trojans host Portland of the West Coast Conference, Friday night at 8 p.m.

Tags: USC Scoop
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