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Texas A&M Surges Past USC 75-59

USC takes first loss of the season

NCAA Basketball: Texas A&M at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The USC Trojans dropped from No. 10 to No. 14 after losing to the then No. 16 Texas A&M Aggies 75-59, after posting 28 points in the second half. It was the first loss of the season, showing some weaknesses for a team about to play SMU and Oklahoma who have a combined 10-3 record.

The obvious problem can be brushed off as an ailment of a poor shooting night, which is partly true. The Trojans were not going to be anyone shooting 28.2 percent from the field and 25.9 percent from the field. The two guard that do plenty of the slashing, Johan Matthews and Jordan McLaughlin, had a an especially abysmal night shooting 4-for-18. Elijah Stewart also was disappointing, shooting 2-for-9 from the three point line coming off a solid game shooting deep against Lehigh.

What It All Means

This is the worst case scenario for the Trojans, which is just the starters having a collective bad night. If Matthews and McLaughlin had an off night, but Chimezie Metu and Bennie Boatwright posted numbers then they win this game.

The problem is when the team shuts down, the bench will never be their to offer support, at least not any time in 2017. Against the Aggies, the bench posted 15 points, a high mark by USC’s standards, but the starters have to be good for 60 to 80 points for a victory.

Texas A&M had to do very little to win this game because of the Trojans disgusting shooting, which meant average nights from the starters was the only thing required. One standout from a Texas A&M bench that posted 24 points was T.J. Starks. Starks played for 14 minutes and put up 10 points and three rebounds. However, this was par for the course as the Aggies bench has put up 20 or more points in five the their six games.

This is a good team, but it took an uncharacteristically bad shooting night from the Trojans to give them a serious edge. Even then the Trojans still gave them a tough run, playing solid perimeter defense and were not burned by any one player having a great showing.

Three Digestible Nuggets

  1. Despite only grabbing eight points, McLaughlin racked up seven assists and seven rebounds. Matthews had three points and three boards. What makes McLaughlin one of the best players on this team, along with a top level player in the conference, is that he does plenty of other things on his bad shooting nights. Matthews has to be able to contribute in other ways when he goes cold.
  2. Speaking of assists, the Trojans only had 11 as a team, seven of which from one player. Part of being a top 10 team is getting the ball around the perimeter and getting away from isolation ball, even when your guys are studs.
  3. The bottom line on this game is that even though this game was bad, five games into the season is too soon to be even close to the panic button. This was an outlier of a game for a good USC team. After the first two games, everyone knew there was no bench help and starters are winning all the games. They had a really off night, but this is not the standard, just the exception.