The USC Trojans went on the road for their third consecutive PAC-12 game, facing off against the California Golden Bears, beating them soundly by 18 points and leading the entire way.
The Trojans found themselves down a man to start the game, squaring off without their star player: Chimezie Metu, who averages 17.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Metu was penalized with a first half suspension for striking the groin of Carter Skaggs in the previous game against Washington State.
Undeterred, USC let out to a 20-8 lead in the opening 11 minutes of play, showing no signs of the offense slowing despite their lead scorers absence. Early 3-point shooting was the early boost for USC, as Bennie Boatwright knock down deep shots early to make the difference and went 3-for-6 on the night from range. It was the perfect time for Boatwright (he finished with 15 points and seven rebounds) to have a good outing, with a terrible shooting performance from the Trojans.
Boatwright was the only starter to hit a 3-point shot, as USC shot 6-for-21 from downtown, a dismal mark. However, the Trojans still entered the half up 41-20, suffering little resistance from Cal.
In the second half, Cal simply did not have the offensive makeup to get themselves back into the game, trailing by 19 or 20 points for the vast majority of the game. Justice Sueing and Marcus Lee were the highlights of the night, posting 15 and 10 points respectively, while combining for 17 of the team’s 37 rebounds.
Nick Rakocevic guided the Trojans to the dominate victory, leading the team with his 19 points on a night his squad shot 46 percent. The victory is the second in-conference victory for the Trojans.
The victories have been solid bounce backs after the disappointing, tight loss to Washington. After a three game losing streak in the beginning of the season, the Trojans are back near the top of the PAC-12.
Three Digestible Nuggets
- The biggest key of the game was Jordan Usher. His 14 points, four rebounds and a steal in 19 minutes was a big help for the diminished Trojans offense. He has turned into a very reliable bench piece for the Trojans, something the roster desperately needed. On a night that Metu was out, his 14 points and ability to actually knock down outside shots (went 2-for-3 from range) gave the offense some spacing.
- Jordan McLaughlin has proven he is a really great player through his slump. Since his 24 point game against Princeton, he has topped out at 12 points, averaging 9.3 points per game over the previous six. Despite his poor scoring after topping 20 points there times in the first 10 games, he has dropped off substantially. But he has still stayed a consistent contributor, averaging eight assists per game this season. He still makes players around him good, even if he is struggling to hit.
- Metu suspension added to a shroud around the team placed there by the De’Anthony Melton and his indefinite suspension because of bribery allegations. Metu now not only was suspended for a pop to someone’s down under (shoutout Draymond Green) means he also has to yield his caption rank. This is disappointing because a USC team that was so much fun for all the right reasons last season, is now started out slow and finds themselves in the news for all the wrong reasons.