Get used to hearing about the Trojans a lot in the world of men’s college basketball because this team is a force to be reckoned with.
Junior transfer guard Drew Peterson’s 19 points and a 17-point, 11-rebound double-double performance by freshman forward Evan Mobley led the Trojans to a 79-53 victory over BYU at the Roman Legends Classic in Uncasville, Conn. The victory gives them a berth to the championship round of the early-season tournament.
Two was the magic number for the Mobley brothers as each put up double-doubles. Evan Mobley shot 8-of-12 while his brother, sophomore forward Isaiah Mobley, had 11 points and 11 rebounds on 5-of-8 shooting.
The team played smothering defense as it held BYU to 27.5% shooting from the field overall and 23% shooting from the perimeter. BYU was 3-0 and shooting 54% from the field before this game. The Cougars were led by senior transfer forward Matt Haarms and junior transfer forward Gideon George, who poured in 11 points apiece.
Meanwhile, the Trojans shot 53% from the field and 43% from 3-point land.
“We’re starting to get used to playing together,” said head coach Andy Enfield, who is in his eighth year at USC. “It was trial by error and we had errors on the defensive end, but today we were locked in. Today, we came out and beat a very good basketball team.”
The first half began as a back-and-forth affair before USC went on a 10-0 run with 4:24 to go, holding BYU to 1-of-19 shooting to end the half up 29-20. Peterson was scoring any way he wanted as he hit turn-around fadeaways, a 3-pointer and some post moves inside to finish the half with 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting.
Evan Mobley already had a near-double-double at the end of the first half with nine points and nine rebounds. He showed his wide skill set throughout the half as he hit a 3-pointer and closed out the half with a vicious one-hand block on George, followed up by two buckets inside including an emphatic dunk to close the half.
BYU head coach Mark Pope was impressed by the length and athleticism of the Mobley brothers saying, “The most impressive thing about those young men is that they know who they are… it’s impressive for any player to approach the game with no agenda, but they seem to know who they are.”
Evan Mobley also had two blocks, but his defensive prowess and offensive acumen go far beyond the stat sheet.
“I have very good size so I use my length to drive down the lane and I try to alter shots,” he said.
Evan Mobley said he doesn’t feel too much pressure being a star recruit.
“I just try to be myself. Every time I go on the floor, I give it 100% and do my best,” he said.
The Trojans came out on fire in the second half and never let up as they went on an 11-0 run early on to go up 47-25. BYU pulled within 21 points on a free throw by George with 9:22 to go, but once redshirt senior Tahj Eaddy scored his 16th point of the night on a 3-pointer to put the Trojans up 28, it was all but over for the Cougars.
USC is now 3-0 on the season and 3-0 when it out-rebounds its opponent, which the team did tonight 50-35.
Peterson was jumping up on the bench with a big smile on his face as redshirt senior forward Chevez Goodwin hit a tough, driving layup with 1:30 to go to put the Trojans up by 30.
It seems to be all smiles for the Trojans three games in as they look to continue their win streak against UConn on Thursday.