The USC men's basketball team lost in embarrassing fashion, 66-46, to an Akron Zips squad that was without its star player. The Zips dominated USC in almost every facet of the game in the opener of the Gildan Charleston Classic Tournament in Charleston, South Carolina.
The Trojans turned the ball over 16 times, which, even scarier, is a season low. They only had six assists on their 15 field goals and were outshot 40 to 28 percent. They also were beat on the boards. Akron had 14 offensive rebounds and won the battle on the boards 41-39. And that's without the Zips having leading scorer and rebounder Demetrius "Tree" Treadwell, who is currently suspended after being involved in a domestic violence incident on Saturday.
USC point guard Jordan McLaughlin was outplayed by Akron's freshman point guard, Noah Robotham. While Robotham was 4-for-6 from the field and knocked down two 3-pointers for 14 points, McLaughlin only had eight points on 2-of-9 shooting, including an 0-for-3 performance from beyond the arc. McLaughlin also had four turnovers to just two assists.
But McLaughlin wasn't the only one to struggle. The Trojans' starting backcourt entered the game averaging 38.5 points, but had just 16 points total on Thursday, finishing 5-for-23 (0-for-8 on 3-pointers) from the floor and turning the ball over nine times.
USC fell behind 36-24 at halftime as Akron went on a 14-4 run late in the half before Jordan McLaughlin ran a nice pick-and-roll and found Darion Clark for a slam just before time expired. The Zips pushed their lead to 17 points, before the Trojans rallied for a 10-0 run. But that was as close as USC would get as Antino Jackson Jr. answered with an 8-0 run of his own, knocking down back-to-back 3-pointers and a layup.
One of the few bright spots was the work of the starting frontcourt on the offensive end. Nikola Jovanovic had a couple of nice moves and finished with 11 points and nine rebounds. Malik Martin showed his versatility and range, knocking down both of his three-point shots -- the Trojans only makes from deep (2-for-11).
But on the defensive end, USC allowed Akron's post players to do whatever they wanted. Pat Forsythe, a 6'11" West Virginia transfer, had a career-high 15 points and added nine rebounds -- four on the offensive end. Forward Kwan Cheatham Jr., filling in the starting lineup for Tree Treadwell, scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
USC nearly has as many turnovers (56) as it does field goals made (61) through three games with primary ballhandlers Jordan McLaughlin (4.3) and Julian Jacobs (3.7) combining for eight per game. One of the Trojans' issues is evident in their assist-to-turnover ratio, which is 1:2. USC has only 28 assists because there is too much one-on-one isolation being played.
The USC Trojans have to recover quickly as they play again tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. PT against the loser of the Miami/Drexel game. The game will be televised either on ESPNU or again be solely on ESPN3. That has not been determined as of yet.