Basketball

USC men’s basketball wins Pac-12 opener over Utah to improve to 7-0

The Trojans won by double digits for the sixth time this season.

A photo of USC junior guard Boogie Ellis in a white uniform throwing down a two-handed dunk, with a teammate and two Utah players trailing him.

In the Trojans’ Pac-12 season opener Wednesday, juniors forward Isaiah Mobley and guard Boogie Ellis shined, scoring 21 and 19 points respectively to lead USC to a 93-73 victory over the Utah Utes.

The first half belonged to Ellis, scoring 16 points while shooting 6-for-9 from the field and 3-of-5 from 3-point range.

With the Trojans leading by nine and under three minutes to go in the half, Ellis went on a personal 8-0 run to put USC up 43-26.

The Trojans would finish the half on a 17-4 run and lead Utah 48-28 at the break. Head coach Andy Enfield praised Ellis’ stretch at the end of the half.

“He played really well offensively and defensively for about a seven- or eight minute stretch,” Enfield said.

Enfield also acknowledged Mobley’s performance.

“He played really solid basketball on both ends. A couple blocked shots, 13 rebounds, a terrific rebounder, a very good defender,” Enfield said. “He finished his lane shots and made his free throws so he was a complete player tonight. It’s great to see.”

Mobley helped lead a suffocating Trojan defense, holding Utah to 30% shooting from the floor and 18% from three in the first half. Offensively, USC bullied Utah on the interior after junior center Branden Carlson went down with an injury. The Trojans scored 30 points in the paint to Utah’s 16 in the half.

“They were kinda smaller and we could really use our size against them and drive the ball as well as post up,” Mobley said of the matchup once Carlson exited.

The Trojans dominated the first half, with Utah leading for only seven seconds.

Utah’s second-half comeback efforts were led by senior guards Both Gach and David Jenkins Jr., who after scoring a combined 11 points in the first half came out scorching with 38 of Utah’s 45 points in the second half.

Despite both guards’ scoring outbursts, Utah was never able to get the margin under 13 points in the second half. The Utes couldn’t score consistently on USC’s stout defense until they were already down 20 points, creating an insurmountable gap. Meanwhile, Utah’s defense struggled to stop a balanced Trojan offensive attack.

Every player in USC’s starting lineup sans redshirt senior forward Chevez Goodwin scored in double figures, with junior forward Max Agbonkpolo scoring 16 points, 11 of which came in the second half.

“Max gave us a huge lift and we need his scoring ability and his length and his defense and rebounding,” Enfield said.

USC’s offensive attack extended to the bench: Junior guard Ethan Anderson led the unit with 10 points.

“This team is really deep,” Mobley said. “We knew we had to pick it up all together. That’s the one thing I love about this team. Like, as you see tonight, we had a bunch of double-figure scorers.”

Throughout the young season the Trojans have shown scoring depth at all positions and a defense that is among the Pac-12′s best. While USC may lack a true superstar, the team makes up for it by constantly bringing full team efforts, and it’s paid dividends so far.

USC remains undefeated at 7-0 and started off conference play exactly how it wanted to, with a resounding win.

The Trojans will remain in the Pacific Time Zone and travel to Pullman to play the Washington State Cougars on Saturday. Tip-off will be at 3 p.m.