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USC Basketball

USC Scoop Hoops Report: USC Is Now In Complete Control

February 17, 2021
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The Trojans are undefeated in February and are finally making some noise nationally during prime time for the pundits to see and start giving this team the respect they deserve!

Make that 18 wins after No. 17 USC defeated Arizona State 89-71 on Wednesday night, strengthening their hold on the PAC-12’s top spot, and as Athletic Director Mike Bohn told the team after the game, the Trojans need to "keep fighting!"

Your First Place USC Trojans stand supreme in the PAC-12, now riding a 7-game winning streak and 13 out of 14 following their win over the Sun Devils.  Leading the way for the surging USC team were the Mobley brothers, who put ASU on notice from the onset that it was going to be a long night for the visitors from the desert.

Evan Mobley had 22 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists, and Isaiah Mobley added 20 points and 12 rebounds.  Tahj Eaddy would also add 18 points for the Trojans, who improved to 18-3 to start a season for the first time since 1973-74. 

Eaddy, who has been on a tear recently, got the game started with a floater in the lane for the quick 2-0 lead, and then Isaiah Mobley would take over down low with a 4-point play, a result of his missed FT.  The missed FT would lead to Isaiah aggressively wrestling the ball away from the ASU defender and taking the ball back up strong for another 2 points.--It was a signal of things to come, and after the game, Isaiah commented on his career-best night. "I know what's at stake. This team is excellent, and it seems like when I get going everyone else gets going and we kind of win by a bigger margin.--I just feel I've been lacking in some of the games, so I just want to make a good run both as a team and for myself, so I tried to pick up the intensity...keep working on my skills -- both at the free throw line and other little things on the outside.--And finish on my opportunities when I get the ball on the inside."  He continued..."Games like this where we both do well, him feeding me highlights, me getting him highlights, the team winning by a good margin, us in first place in the Pac-12 -- only thing missing is the fans.--I'm glad that I'm picking it up now and hopefully we can ride this thing out and keep winning like this and make a run in the tournament."

With both brothers answering questions after the game, Evan thought it was cool that both he and his brother could show the country what they're capable of doing together on the floor.  "It's just amazing me and him have two great games. We had a feel for each other in this game, great chemistry.--It's great to see him do well tonight," Evan Mobley said afterward.

Arizona State was outmatched in height and depth, just like the first matchup between the schools, and a big reason why USC won the first meeting in Tempe, when the Trojans pulled down 13 offensive boards.  So one would think USC could duplicate that performance and have plenty of second-chance opportunities considering their propensity to miss from the outside and from beyond the arc.  But there weren't many missed opportunities; For the game, USC shot 55% from the field and matched that percentage from behind the arc, where the Trojans shot 11-20.  

ASU entered Galen on Wednesday, having won 3 of their last four games, including a thrilling 75-73 home win over the Beavers.  The Sun Devils were able to make it a game for the first 20 minutes on the back of Remy Martin's shooting; Martin would lead all scorers on the night with 30 points, going 12-19 from the field.  However, once USC's defense clamped down in the 2nd half holding ASU to only 27 points, there wasn't much left to do except watch the Mobley Brothers take over and dominate, scoring from the inside and scoring from the outside.  The two combined for 26 points on 11-of-16 shooting in the second half alone.

And when the two towers weren't putting the ball in the basket, they were assisting their teammates to do the same; Evan Mobley's seven assists would lead the team proving coach Enfield right again as he's mentioned all season, "Evan is a very unselfish player who will get his teammates the ball when they're open."  His assist numbers reflect his teammates shooting the ball incredibly well.  As a team, the Trojans had 21 assists to only ten turnovers.  "That's what he's capable of doing. He's had many games this year where he should have had 2-3 more assists in each game just because our guards miss open shots, but tonight the guys were making shots for him and also he was reading the defense to throw it down low to Isaiah if they were late on their cover-downs.--And if they were early he threw it out to the guards. Evan, I thought he looked like Tom Brady with the ball in his hands just reading the defense and making the right play."

Be careful, Coach, you’re coming dangerously close to calling Evan Superman! LOL

Defense wins championships!

When ASU had 44 points in the first half, an adjustment had to be made in the locker room, considering the Trojans have held their last seven opponents to under 70 points, including holding the Bruins to 48 points on  2/6 and UW on 2/11.  

How good was the Trojan's second-half defense?  The Sun Devils were held to 0-made FG's over the final 6:15 of the game.  In fact, ASU's last 2 points came on a couple of last-second garbage time FT's from Caleb Christopher when the benches were cleared and the game no longer in doubt.  After the game, Coach Enfield joked, "I thought the first half looked like the NBA All-Star Game.--Offensively, we played great the whole game. Defensively the second half is what we're accustomed to and what we expect out of our team."

The game’s second half turned into the Mobley Brothers Show.  Isaiah and Evan took over during the first 10 minutes of the second half, and they would combine to outscore the Sun Devils 18-10, extending the team's lead to 64-54.  The Trojans had pushed a two-point halftime lead into their first double-digit lead on the night, and they were never seriously threatened again.  During the sequence, Evan Mobley's highlights included a 3-pointer from the top of the key, and then on defensive, he would take the ball from Martin, race down the court, and finish with a monster dunk!

Big brother Isaiah started the second half the same way he started the game, playing with the confidence and aggressive energy the team captain should play with, scoring five points of his own on dunks; both buckets a result of little brother finding big brother in the post or cutting to the basket, even drawing the And-1.

It would only be a matter of time before the Trojan's size advantage would take over down low. ASU's defense has been below average in the conference, making the Sun Devils a lousy matchup against USC...They are one of the worst defensive rebounding teams in the league and allow over 59% shooting on shot attempts at the rim.  Why is it a bad matchup for ASU?  The Trojans dominate their opponents in the paint, where they are shooting 52.3% from 2-point range and 62.6% at the rim.  

Tonight the Trojans looked like the team we’ve all been waiting to see, and if they can continue to improve over their next six games heading into postseason play, they could find themselves putting on a ring and hoisting a trophy.

With their success comes more national attention and perhaps raised expectations. USC will be receiving a lot of exposure going forward since the remainder of their games are scheduled to be aired on national TV, starting Saturday afternoon against a good Arizona squad on FS1 at 3:00PM PST. 

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USC Scoop Hoops Report: USC Is Now In Complete Control

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