It required overtime, but the Princeton Tigers finished the surge past the USC Trojans for a 103-93 victory to secure their third consecutive victory. Despite the extra time, it was almost all starters for both teams, which combined for 7 players topping 40 minutes and only going three deep into the bench.
How USC and Princeton Pushed To Overtime
In the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, it was the guard play of the Tigers that really stood out, most notably Myles Stephens and his impressive 30 points and nine rebounds.
The Tigers popped the Trojans in the mouth by jumping out to an early double-digit lead in the opening half. However, USC hit four of their ten 3-pointers in the first nine minutes, which put them right back in the game.
In the first half the stars for USC were Elijah Stewart (finished with 20 points) and Jordan McLaughlin (finished with 24 points, eight assists), who scorched the Tigers from the 3-point line, spreading the defense nicely for Metu and Nick Rakocevic.
However, the Tigers guards continued to be pesky, with Amir Bell and Devin Cannady combining for 41 points, 13 assist and 16 rebounds. Bell was also instrumental for the Princeton defense with five steals.
Both teams really hit their stride in the second half, each side hitting the 50 point mark to tie the game at 86-86. A seven point Stephens run was overshadowed by Metu’s 14-point run in the final 10 minutes to keep the Trojans in the contest.
USC Overtime Blunders
A silly turnover by McLaughlin early and great shooting from Princeton’s Bell spring-boarded the Tigers to a six point lead. The Trojans responded by forcing some ill advised 3-point shots, effectively deepening their hole. By the time USC started hitting shots again, there was not enough time for a comeback with only a minute left in the overtime period. The lack of time effectively ended the game. Bell finished with seven of his 18 points coming in OT.
Three Digestible Nuggets for USC Trojans Basketball:
- Jordan Usher followed up his eight point performance by with his first ever double-digit game, posting career bests in points (12) and rebounds (four). He was a crucial part of the crunch time lineup, scoring five of the Trojans seven overtime points. Having a 6-foot-7 guard to contribute in the end of games is valuable as Usher has grown into quite the asset as the season has progressed.
- While the depth of this team looked to be the biggest flaw, USC has proven that their most tarnishing attribute is the inability to halt a key player. Stephens and Cannady are by far the best scorers on the Tigers, a duo that went for 53 points and 18 rebounds. Just like Trae Young for Oklahoma, Shake Milton for SMU or D.J. Hogg for Texas A&M, the primary scorer will have a big night against USC. The defense desperately needs to find an answer to this problem.
- Metu topped the 20-point mark in the last three outings, the first time in his career he has strung three consecutive 20-point appearances together. He has established himself as the No. 1 scorer on the team. Now USC can really play with their lineups. When the Trojans’ lineup uses Boatwright, McLaughlin, Stewart, Usher and Metu they can really spread the floor while critically stretching the defense. As a result, Metu has far more space in the paint allowing him to own the inside and destroy the opposition on the boards. Plenty of good things are going to happen when the Trojans get back to full health, Many of them with Metu at the heart of the offense.