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Turnovers Tell The Entire Story In USC's 76-68 Season-Opening Loss To Portland State

Plenty of freshmen were making their presence felt on Saturday night.

Coach Enfield was not real pleased on Saturday night.
Coach Enfield was not real pleased on Saturday night.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The USC Trojans came out with energy, tempo and pace in the home opener. They just couldn't stop themselves from turning over the basketball in an embarrassing 76-68 loss to Portland State. The Trojans committed 23 turnovers, 10 of which resulted from being pick pocketed by the Vikings.

That's just inexcusable.

Head coach Andy Enfield was adamant after the game that USC will not be able to win many games when you (one) turn it over 23 times, and then (two) can only force four turnovers on the defensive end.

Jordan McLaughlin led the Trojans with 19 points. Three players finished in double figures, but the large struggles on the offensive end left USC on the wrong end of a season opener to forget. USC actually shot 53-percent from the field, but the costly mistakes on the offensive end made life rather difficult from start to finish.

The Trojans came out pressing early in the second half after trailing 39-32 at the break. A strong defensive effort held Portland State to a 2-for-18 to start the half and USC roared back, taking a brief one-point lead after a nice spin move and finger roll finish by Darion Clark.

But the Trojans turned the ball over on three of their next four possessions to fall behind again. USC once again trimmed the lead down to a one-point game, but couldn't get over the hump.

From the 5:06 mark on, however, Portland State made big bucket after big bucket, penetrating the USC defense and kicking out for relatively easy jumpers. The Vikings were led by Tiegbe Bamba (19 points), the 6-foot-6 forward making his first start of his Portland State career.

Four of the five Portland State starters scored in double figures, providing a balanced effort from the lineup that featured mostly four guards throughout the night. USC started the game going big, playing both Malik Martin (10 points, 6 rebounds) and Nikola Jovanovic (6 points, 7 rebounds) in the starting lineup.

But as the half progressed, and Jovanovic continued to be silent on the offensive end, the Trojans gave Darion Clark more minutes. The results were largely positive and Clark finished the night with eight points and five rebounds, including the awesome spin move in the lane resulting in a sweet bucket.

Coach Enfield kept the rotation to ten players, which could've really been nine if not for a brief stint from Chass Bryan. The Trojans dominated the rebounding department, 43-25 in total, an improvement from the scrimmage, but they just couldn't find ways to translate those second chances into good offensive possessions.

The Trojans lost their first home opener in seven chances and welcome Tennessee Tech, another experienced team, to the Galen Center on Monday night.


1. Have To Be Smarter With The Ball.

TWENTY-THREE turnovers speak for themselves. The Trojans featured a large amount of isolation on offense, especially when Jordan McLaughlin was not cutting to the basket, which meant plenty of sloppy possessions that turned into turnovers. The biggest problem was on simple passes, balls that were getting nocked away and thrown into transition for quick buckets.

2. Where Was Nikola On Offense?

The Trojans' leading returning scorer was nowhere to be found. Jovanovic finished just 2-of-6 from the field and never really exhibited the killer instinct to demand the basketball in the paint. Give credit to Tiegbe Bamba and Braxton Tucker for pushing him away from preferable spots, but the four-to-five inch size advantage was far too plentiful for Jovanovic not to get some easy buckets in the paint.

3. No Real 3-PT Threat

Outside of a late shot in the closing seconds from Jordan McLaughlin, the Trojans struggled to find any success from behind the arc. For a team so athletic, USC is going to really struggle this season if they can't spread the defense with a true perimeter threat. The Trojans shot 4-for-12 on the night from deep, missing plenty of big chances to break the game open, and that led to a multitude of big scoring droughts in the second half.