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USC Basketball

USC Scoop Hoops Report: USC Defeats UC Riverside In Overtime

January 12, 2021
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I'll be careful not to characterize tonite's game against the UC Riverside Highlanders as a tune-up; Coach Andy Enfield doesn't like that characterization. To be honest, it's disrespectful to the UC Riverside Highlanders, who have already knocked of the Washington Huskies. USC is scheduled to host that same Huskies team Thursday evening. 

But I can assure you, that following USC's 67-62 overtime win over the Highlanders, everyone feels fortunate to come away with the victory. This was the second game in a row where the Trojans had to have a comeback win after giving up a big lead.

Tonite's match-up was more strategic. The strategy was to get the team on the court together to play as many games as possible, so when the selection committee is looking for some meat to chew on, there will be plenty left on the bone. Unfortunately, Ethan Anderson is still sidelined with a back issue, so if part of the strategy was to help Anderson get back into game shape, then that piece of the plan backfired. However, even with the continued absence of Anderson, the Trojans' best on-the-ball defender, there should be no excuse for this Trojan team to allow UC Riverside to go on a 16-0 run and take a double-digit lead in the first half and a 32-27 halftime lead.

Tonight's performance marked the second consecutive game where the Trojans were just horrible from the outside; As a team, the Trojan shooters were only 3-21 from behind the arc while the Highlanders shot 38% on 12-32 shooting.

This was also the second game in a row where the USC’s free throw shooting saved their butts. The Trojans were 16-22/73% from the charity stripe, and if UCR could shoot FT's like they were able to make their threes, they more than likely would have left Galen victorious; the Highlanders were 2-9 from the line. For the math impaired, that's 22%.

Another cold-shooting performance from the Trojans when the game started found them trailing 7-2 with 16:44 on the clock, while going 1-6 shooting from the field.  But then Evan "Superman" Mobley made a cameo appearance when he soared in for a two-handed dunk, which was quickly followed by an Isaiah White drive and layup, giving himself a chance for the 3-point play following the TV timeout; USC had cut the lead to 7-6 with a free throw still coming.  Offensively, that was pretty much it for Superman in the first half, who finished with 4 only points on 2-6 shooting. Evan Mobley would be saving his best and saving the team for later in the game. Until then, big brother Isaiah would lead the Trojans' 1st half scoring with 14 points going 6-12 from the field.  Isaiah would finish the night with a double-double of 16 points and team-high 12 rebounds.  

Over the last week or so of games, the older Mobley brother has begun to find his offensive identity and his shooting confidence; He was a big reason why the Trojans could stay close in the first half with his 14 points. Isaiah Mobley commented after the game why this match up meant more to him. "Just a fight I didn't want to lose.--I think this could be a championship team, I think we could end up making a big run this year, and also we're playing against a school from my area so kind of a pride thing as well...just fighting and not wanting to lose ."

Evan once again showed some late-game heroics when he donned his cape, sparking a run led by his defense; the Trojans had nine blocks as a team. Evan had 6 of them, including 5 in the 2nd half and overtime session. Evan would also lead the team in scoring with 20 points while adding 11 rebounds. I would shutter the thought if either Mobley brother had a poor performance on Tuesday evening because their teammates were making things difficult with all of their misses from the field.

After the game, Coach Enfield was asked about his concern for the Trojan's outside shooting; over the last two games COMBINED, the team is just 6-42 from behind the arc! "It was a good win for us given the circumstances, shooting 3 for 21 from the 3-point line again -- it's very challenging when you can't make shots. That's a big part of the game--You've got to be able to score the ball." The coach would continue to vent his frustrations when he explained how his team was missing open shots while the opponent is banking theirs in from a distance. "I am concerned because it's affected us.--To give you an example, they[UCR] had one player[Pickett], he went 4- 4 from the 3-point line, and he made more than our entire team, and we took 21 shots.--And a lot of them, I would say most of the shots were wide-open shots. I don't think we forced a whole lot tonight, but the ball has to go in for somebody. After two games of seeing this, it's frustrating. It's frustrating for Evan when they double-team him in the post, and we kick it out, and it also really affects our spacing because teams can just sag into the paint.--It's hard to get to the rim when 3, 4, or 5 guys are in the paint, so we've got to be able to spread the floor by making some.--Whether it's in their head or not, they've got to get it out of their head and start making some shots!!"

(I just want to point out the difference in answers when concern is involved.  Andy Enfield showed his concern.  Graham Harrell should take notes.)

One of Coach Enfield's first questions after the game was the status of Ethan Anderson's back because of the value he brings and how his loss is magnified against teams with quicker guards.  

"With only six assists tonight, we sure needed him to make some plays, but when you don't make shots, that's why you have a low assist total.--But he should be back either Thursday or Saturday.--It's going to be a game-time decision, on Thursday. He just has to keep getting in shape.--He is working out right now, and I think he feels good, so we're optimistic that we'll have him back soon."

After the Highlanders were able to grab the lead 53-52 with just over:30 left in the game, Isaiah White set up the overtime session when he drove the baseline drawing the foul, two free throws, and a chance to get the lead back. After missing the first, White made the bonus to tie the game with 13 seconds remaining.  Evan then got one of his six blocks to keep the game tied and force the extra session.

Following the Trojan's "tough and gritty" comeback-win over ASU from this past weekend, Drew Peterson commented that those types of games would benefit the team down the road. Although, I’m not sure he thought the road would be so short, and the transfer took over the OT session to make sure his words would look prophetic.  Peterson, who was held scoreless in the first half, only had 4 points when OT started.--He would finish the night with 12 points and 8 rebounds.  After the game, Drew shared his thoughts on the team and his performance. "I played throughout the flow of the game and I found a couple good spots as we hit overtime, and my teammates trusted me to make the right shots.--I was missing a few early but I got them to drop late in overtime and just happy to get the win. There's no free wins, especially with everything going on.--Every win is going to be gritty, and this was a really gritty win for us."   

The Trojans will tip-off Thursday night against Washington at 6:30 PM on the PAC-12 Network attempting to get their 10th win against only 2 losses.

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USC Scoop Hoops Report: USC Defeats UC Riverside In Overtime

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