The first loss of the season for the USC Trojans was sustained after a 24 percent shooting night against Texas A&M. Now the starters put up another quiet night against the SMU Mustangs in a 72-55 loss, going on a two game losing streak after winning the opening four.
Part of the problem is that while some can underestimate the seven win Mustangs, this is a very good roster that stretches a defense. Guards Ben Emelogu II and Shake Milton shot 8-12 from downtown as the team shot 50 percent. The deep threat that the Mustangs presented helped open up the paint for the team as their starters racked up 71 of their points.
Milton was the standout on the night, finishing with 22 point and nine assists on 6-11 shooting and getting to the line for 10 shots from the charity stripe. It was Milton’s 11 20 point game in his career. Emelogu also had a big night, posting 16 points and six rebounds along with three steals.
While the Trojans led the game for the majority of the first half and took a 30-27 lead into halftime, they could not keep up with the outside shooting of SMU. The Trojans only shot 29 percent at the three point line, a key factor in the 45-25 second half debacle that helped the Mustangs cruise to victory.
The loss also drops the Trojans to 25th in the country, free falling 15 spots after a pair of losses. It also puts them, at best, as the second best team in the PAC-12, as the Arizona State Sun Devils are 16th in the country.
Three Digestible Nuggets
- USC’s Chimezie Metu has been consistently solid, putting up 13 points as the only double digit scorer on the Trojans. Met has averaged 16 points and 7.7 rebounds per game this season. The offense has to find a spark outside to play off his offense around the paint.
- In two consecutive games the Trojans have not found an answer for the top scorer on the other squad. For Texas A&M, D.J. Hogg posted 15 points (he averages 16.9 this season) and against SMU, Milton had 22 (he averages 18.7 this season). USC’s defense and how they adjust to these kind of scores finding a rhythm will decide a lot of games this season.
- Elijah Stewart and Bennie Boatwright are the three point pulse of this team and for the starters to get back to their winning ways, the duo has to get hot again. They average 4.5 and six shots from deep respectively, the most by far on the roster. They combined for 1-8 shooting from deep against SMU. Spreading the floor starts with them for the Trojans, but first they have to find the bottom of the basket.