The USC Trojans were in need to add a key non conference win to their resume. They managed to do just that as they relied on a second half run to defeat the LSU Tigers in the Hall of Fame Classic at Staples Center 70-68.
FINAL: USC 70, LSU 68!— USC Men's Basketball (@USC_Hoops) December 22, 2019
Trojans come from behind to net a big win over the Tigers! pic.twitter.com/N3W3TSX5Pf
The first half saw a close back and forth battle between the Tigers and Trojans. Late in first half LSU went on a 7-0 run to give them a 35-28 lead at the half. The second half USC crawled right back into the game thanks to their defense, rim protection, and hot three point shooting. Jonah Mathews, Ethan Anderson, and Daniel Utomi led the charge with their outside shooting during the second half. On the defensive end USC relied on their rim protection and ability to clean up on the defensive boards to hold LSU at bay during the run.
USC took a late 66-59 lead thanks to an Anderson three pointer. At that point it appeared the Trojans had the game in hand. LSU had other ideas. The Tigers went on a late run as time started to wind down and the Trojans had troubles to score following the three. LSU tried the Trojans lead down to two with 44 seconds left on the clock. A Nik Rakocevic tip in put USC back up by four points, however Skyler Mays took it the length of the court for a lay up to but them right back down by two. Mathews missed the ensuing one and one which gave LSU a chance to tie the game. Freshman forward Onyeka Okongwu blocked the potential game tying mid range to preserve the 70-68 win for USC.
Mathews led the Trojans in scoring with 15 points with Rakocevic right behind him with 14. Anderson started the first half cold, but was a huge contributor in the second half run. He ended the game with 11 points while Utomi finished with 10 points off the bench. Freshman sensation Okongwu 10 points, 9 resounds, and added 4 blocks as he continues to find early season success with the Trojans.
With the win USC moves to 10-2 on the season. They now have quality wins over TCU, LSU, and Nevada which will look good on their resume should the Trojans have the opportunity to be in the discussion for March Maddness. USC finishes up their non conference slate on December 29th when Andy Enfield’s old program in Florida Gulf Coast travels to Los Angeles to face USC.