USC Basketball

Game Day: Notes & Observations USC vs Cal Basketball Edition

January 16, 2020
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The Trojans are finally playing a home game in January...and it only took 17 days to make it a reality.  The last time USC wore the home whites was last decade when they defeated the Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast.  And while the Trojans defeated the Bruins on the road last Saturday at Pauley Pavillion, the team was at least able to sleep in their own beds all week. 

Comiong into tonight’s game, Cal, has already notched a win over the same Washington Huskies team who throttled the Trojans two weeks earlier.--Still, the Bears are still a bad team.  The Trojans should have little trouble handling their business tonight, which sets up Saturday afternoon’s showdown with the Stanford Cardinal for first place.  Stanford will enter Galen at 15-2 overall and 4-0 in conference with a No. 25 ranking.  Stanford was picked to finish 10th in the conference by the media, and so far all the Cardinal have done is win...including an impressive victory over Kansas.

**USC’s Assistant coaches work hard pregame.  You can find them in the weightroom lifting, and then on the court they’ll work up a sweat getting the team ready with their individual drills.

**Big Onyeka Okongwu vs Coach Capko down in the paint and Big O gives coach a chicken wing as he makes his move to the basket...looks like he caught coach by surprise.  Haha

**7:00 till the teams tip off and Galen is slowly filling in.  The semester just started this week so classes and studying should not be an issue.  The Trojans are 13-3 overall and 3-1 in conference...so the fans should start to take notice.   

**The guys seem dialed in during warm ups, most notably Nick Rakocevic.

**Can a USC player have great back to back games?  Last week Daniel Utomi had a career high 13 points in the win over the Bruins.  Can the Utomi carry his play over from last week against the Bruins as he starts his 2nd consecutive game in place of EliJah Weaver?

**Memo to USC...it might be time to film a new team intro that does not include Charles O’Bannon Jr in the countdown.  These little things might not seem like a big deal, however, the attention to detail is important when promoting a product.  To the band wagon Trojan basketball fans...Charles O’Bannon recently transferred to TCU.

**Props to the student section who arrived in time to fill up their section before the tip.  I then have to remind myself...they’re getting something for free tonight.  You know what?!!   Whatever it takes to give Galen and the team a homecourt advantage works for me...for now!  If the team continues to pile up the wins no one should need any extra motivation to support the team.

**Also good to see the lower bowl almost at capacity...great job Trojans!

1ST HALF

**Nick gets the flop warning after getting trucked by the Cal offensive player.  No blocking or charge call and lots of contact....weird call.

**The Trojans are 0-2 from the FT line following Ethan’s misses...guards make your FT’s...Make  it 0-4 after Onyeka Okongwu misses his 2 attempts.

**Big O not waiting for the double team making his move before they can sag down...the previous two games against the zone, Okongwu, has looked unsure at times and his offense has struggled.

**Another flop call, this time on Ethan Anderson...I have no issue with the call, however, the one on Nick was horrible and the Bears are bow awarded a technical foul FT.

**Keary Colbert is in the house.  So are AD’s Mike Bohn and Brandon Sosna.  Later, Mike Bohn is spotted talking with disgruntled mega booster, Brian Kennedy, who made news earlier in the week when he put the athletic department and the football program on blast following LSU’s national championship victory with Ed Ogeron at the helm.

**Bad hands by the guys are leading to unforced turnovers.  The Trojans lead 16-11 with just under 10 minutes to go however missed FT’s and turnovers are keeping the Bears in the game while Cal shoots only 25% from the field.

**A nice coaching moment on the bench after Coach Enfield pulls Kyle Sturdivant after he passes up an open shot, and is instead called for traveling.   Once on the bench Coach Jason Hart sits diwn next to the freshman and explains the situation….Got have the confidence to pull the trigger when the big in the middle kicks it out of the double team.  Not only did Kyle travel but he was also taking the ball right back into traffic disrupting the offensive flow.

**Trojans now have 7 turnovers and only 6 assists with 6:39 to play in the half, to compound their issue(s) the Trojans are only 4-9 from the charity stripe and the reason why the Trojans only lead 23-19 with 6:15 to play.

**A copuple of back to back 3’s from Jonah Matthews and Daniel Utomi stretch the Trojan lead to 12 at 31-19 with 3:55 left to go in the half.  Nick Rakocevic found Utomi in the corner passing out of the double team...good execution all the way around.  Had Kyle Sturdivant taken the shot in the same situation a few plays earlier, he would not have needed the personal coaching session on the bench with Coach Hart.  

**At the half the Trojans extend to a 41-25 lead and finish with a defensive flourish as Onyeka Okongwu swats away the Bears last shot attempt at the buzzer.

2ND HALF

**What a great vibe inside Galen tonight with the “big” crowd.   Fans you really do make a difference with the noise.  Tonight’s attendance was 4,312.

**Utomi opens the 2nd half scoring with another 3.

**Trojans are shooting 72% from 3 and 8-11.  Trojans are en fuego

**Big O is quietly putting together a nice bounce back game with 10 pointsand 4 rebounds with 12:30 still to play.  Trojans lead 54-36 with 11:18.  Big O is now up to 12 and 6

**9:29 left in the game and the Trojans have extended to a 26 point lead.  They are beating a bad team they way they should at home.

**Trojans with 8 1st half turnovers and only 4 so far in the 2nd half.  It’s amazing what good shooting, good defense, and ball security can do for a talented team.

**Nick needs to learn how to bend over for the bounce pass.

**With 4:34 to play the Trojan faithful start heading to the exits with the team leading 73-47...hopefully the crowd shows up on Saturday afternoon for the battle with Stanford

**Small line up on the court for the Trojans with 3 guards and Isaiah Mobley along with Max Agbonkpolo

**With less than 3 minutes to play Cal has packd it in for the night allowing USC to take shooting practice...83-52 with 1:51 to play.

**The Trojans win over the Bears is the largest margin since 1972 when they beat them by 31. Final 88-56

The answer to my question above is, yes...Daniel Utomi had a tremendous game and it coincides with inserting him into the starting line up, and as Coach Enfield said postgame when asked if the move to the starting line up is permanent, Enfield, answered with a laugh, “For now it’s permanent.”

The Trojans and Stanford Cardinal tip off Saturday afternoon at 3:30, and if you watched the postgame interviews with the players and Andy Enfield, then you know...the Trojan fans make a difference and your presence has been requested.

 
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