Note From The Editor: In addition to our game recap, we encourage you to view our accompanying photo gallery. Game highlights, our post-game press conference, and an interview with Jordan McLaughlin are forthcoming.
The USC Trojans, now 17-6, 8-2, are greatly enjoying the new year’s month of January because it’s been paying great dividends with much-needed PAC-12 victories. Once again, led by seniors #11 Jordan McLaughlin, #30 Elijah Stewart, and underclassmen, #4 Chimezie Metu/JR, #31 Nick Rakocevic/JR, #2 Jonah Mathews/SO, and #5 Derryk Thornton/SO, the Trojans found another yet another path to this important win over the California Bears as they improved to (8-2) in PAC-12 Conference play and a second place standing just behind the Arizona Wildcats. Their overall record now goes to (17-6). This win gives the Trojans their sixth in a row. On a player note, Bennie Boatwright/JR, was held out of the contest by Head Coach, Andy Enfield (5th year), due to a foot injury. Official attendance for the game was 6,144.
Brief Game Summary: In the 1st half the Bears led the Trojans by a few points up to the eight minute mark. Then the turnover bug bit down hard on the Bears, and the Trojans quickly capitalized on it by going on a five point run, as they expanded their lead to (23-18). The Bears then fought back with their own 5-0 run and regained the lead at the :34.5 second mark of the period. The Trojans would get the last shot of the period as Jonah Mathews (Santa Monica HS) buried a 3 pointer to give the Trojans the halftime lead at 31-29. Glad to be quarterbacking his team most efficiently and productively was the four-year senior point guard and three-year team captain, Jordan McLaughlin (Etiwanda HS) who had 3 assists (credit him on Mathew’s 3 pointer with :12 seconds left) and 2 steals to close out the half. McLaughlin now moves into the #10 spot on the PAC-12’s career assists category.
In the 2nd half the Trojans’ returned to the court with solid momentum as they built up an eight point lead at (39-31). This seven point run was capped off by a 3 pointer from Elijah Stewart moving the score to (43-33), USC. A ferocious two-handed slam dunk by Chimezie Metu (Lawndale HS) then made it (45-35) boosting the lead to 10. On the following possession, Elijah Stewart (the pride of Westchester HS) drew a foul on a fast break and made two free throws, making (47-34). The Trojans three-quarter court press was very effective whenever it was applied as it led to turnovers, and then timely baskets which resulted in several textbook “3-on-1s“ and “3-on-2s.” Then it was back and forth for several minutes with both teams trading baskets. The Trojans caught fire when Jonah Mathews/SO hit two consecutive 3 pointers moving their lead to (57-47). Jordan McLaughlin then hit a 3 pointer followed by a fast break basket by Shaqquan Aaron, (an L.A. native), and the score ballooned to 62-47. Cal then called a :30 second timeout to stop the Trojans’ momentum. From the six minute mark remaining in the game, the Men of Troy kept up the offensive barrage and closed out the game winning easily and comfortably by the final score of 77-59. The victory launched them on a confident note for their crucial, upcoming three-game road trip this week.
Next Up: The Trojans now head to very hostile territory as they prepare for the trip to Westwood on Saturday, Feb. 3rd, to take on their dreaded rivals, the UCLA Bruins. Tip-off is set for 3 pm and will televised on ESPN2. They will then head to Arizona to take on the U of A Wildcats and the Arizona St. Sun Devils. They return to Galen Ctr. on Feb. 15th and 17th for a two game set vs. the Oregon Ducks and the Oregon St. Beavers respectively. You can follow the Trojans for the rest of the season and throughout the PAC-12 Tournament by clicking here. By: Rico Cabrera, Sr./East L.A. Sports Scene Productions/Editor, EastLASportScene.Com.
Photo Gallery Credits: Frankli Robles, Student Intern/East L.A. Sports Scene Productions/EastLASportsScene.Com