The No. 10 ranked USC men’s basketball team beat Georgia Tech 67-53 at the Colangelo Classic in Phoenix on Saturday. All five starters scored double digits, led by junior guard Boogie Ellis’ 16 points, which helped the Trojans obtain the eighth longest winning streak in school history at 12 games.
The Trojans lacked rhythm to start the game, struggling to play against Georgia Tech’s 1-3-1 and 2-3 zone defense. The team went 2-of-14 from the field in the beginning of the first half, including five missed 3-pointers. With 11 minutes to go in the half, USC was down six points.
Even though USC couldn’t make consecutive shots early in the game, head coach Andy Enfield said he wasn’t worried and is satisfied with the opportunities his team had.
“We have good basketball players, good offensive players on our team and it’s a matter of time for some shots to go down. We were frustrated because we had some clean looks, open looks, that just didn’t go in,” Enfield said. “Once we became more aggressive and floated into a good offensive rhythm, I thought we played very well.”
After the adjustments, the Trojans focused more on ball movement and attacked the rim more frequently, which helped them find better shooting opportunities, earn more free throws and reduce turnovers. USC made statements on both ends of the floor, forcing three turnovers from Georgia Tech and embarking on a 25-10 scoring run to end the first half.
USC senior guard Drew Peterson stood up defensively in the first half, limiting Georgia Tech’s best scorer, senior guard Michael Devoe, to 3-for-9 shooting. On the other end, junior guard Ethan Anderson scored 11 points, including three 3-pointers, and helped the team build a nine-point advantage to end the first half.
After USC made six 3-pointers, Georgia Tech switched from zone defense to man-to-man to start the second half. The Trojans had a great size advantage over their opponents and capitalized on this advantage by competing for offensive rebounds and attacking the paint. With a layup by Ellis midway through the second half, USC built a 16-point lead over Georgia Tech.
However, Georgia Tech fought its way back in the game. Led by Devoe, the Yellow Jackets took advantage of USC’s turnovers, played at a faster pace in transition and went on a 10-0 scoring run.
Enfield brought his starters back in immediately, which helped USC halt Georgia Tech’s momentum. The Trojans found their pace again and expanded their lead with multiple fast breaks.
Peterson and Ellis continuously scored layups and 3-pointers in the last six minutes of the game, which helped the team to a 67-53 victory.
“We don’t take any team for granted or game for granted, so each game is important to us. Our players were extremely focused to come in here, to play in Phoenix in an NBA arena against a very good ACC team,” Enfield said.
The Trojans’ next game against Oklahoma State on Tuesday has been canceled due to COVID-19 cases within USC’s program. Team activities have been paused indefinitely.