The USC Trojans exploded out on a 21-5 run to end the first half, and never really looked back, beating the Loyola Marymount Lions to secure their third straight victory on the season. Led by an 18-point effort from freshman Jordan McLaughlin, the USC offense got to the basket at will and did a great job moving the ball around the court.
Despite the fact USC made some "freshmen and sophomore mistakes out there," according to head coach Andy Enfield, the Trojans did plenty of things well -- especially on the defensive end of the court -- to earn the victory on a wet and cold night outside. Ten players scored on the night, including a late three-pointer off the bench from walk-on Devon Pflueger.
USC scored 38 points in the paint and limited LMU to just 36 percent shooting from the field. The Trojans were on point in almost every facet of the game. Here are the three big takeaways from the non-conference win:
1. Reinhardt the Defender
USC head coach Andy Enfield challenged the UNLV transfer to step up his play on the defensive end earlier this Spring, if he wanted to get playing time for this program. Katin Reinhardt has accepted the responsibility in stride, guarding the opposing teams' best player each and every night. After shutting down his New Mexico counterpart, Hugh Greenwood, to zero points, Reinhardt was extremely active on Lions leading scorer Evan Payne. who averages 21 points per game on the year.
Payne, one of the nation's leading scorers coming into the night, did finish the night with 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting, but he only scored five points in the first half and only had eight until the final 11 mintues. The biggest reason, Reinhardt was up and active on the defensive end of the floor, an area that was not his strong suit during his freshmen season at UNLV.
2. Malik Martin Returned
After being out for the past two weeks, freshman center Malik Martin returned to the Trojans roster. He played 11 minutes and looked rather exhausted on both ends of the floor, finishing with five points and one rebound. Enfield stressed that his conditioning is not up to par, which was only hampered by the last two weeks of being injured. The rotation of big men consisted of Darion Clark and Nikola Jovanovic on the front end, both of whom played well, and Luis Gavrilovic off the bench.
3. Nikola Returned To Normal
Following a 16-rebound performance in the Trojans' upset win over New Mexico, Nikola Jovanovic scored six early points in the opening minutes and looked sharp all night long. He finished the night in double figures, moving USC's record to 9-4 all-time in such games, and looked more assertive rebounding the basketball.
"Nikola had a lot of pressure coming into the season," said sophomore guard, and captain, Julian Jacobs. "(Now) he's just getting back in his groove."
Jovanovic was fighting hard on the glass, snatching in 8 rebounds against a physical LMU frontcourt. While the Trojans were taken advantage of on the offensive glass, the undersized frontcourt was rather scrappy for the basketball.
***And the Foul!
4. Extra, Extra, USC Can Dunk
As the LMU Lions were sneaking right back into the game, the Trojans resurrected "Dunk City" with three straight slams, two of which were by Julian Jacobs. The spark plug sequence fired up a rowdy Galen Center crowd that battled the elements (I'm not joking...there is actually rain in LA occasionally) to attend a Wednesday night game against a Los Angeles rival.