When USC head coach Andy Enfield constructed his roster for the season, he knew it was filled with promising, but young talent.
In the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament, the talent reared its inexperienced side as the Trojans committed 20 turnovers in a 73-66 defeat against the Tennessee Volunteers.
“We were just trying to force some stuff here and there,” sophomore guard Kobe Johnson said. “I think those turnovers definitely affected the game. We all played into it.”
The Trojans also committed 23 fouls, with Tennessee converting those into 22 made free throws.
“It was disappointing,” Enfield said. “We had 23 fouls to their 10, and they were the most physical team we’ve played. There were also some calls that didn’t go our way.”
Volunteer freshman forward Julian Phillips led the game with 25 points while also collecting eight rebounds.
Phillips was responsible for one of just three successful attempts from behind the arc for the Volunteers. The Trojans’ zone defense limited the Volunteers to a 17% mark from 3-point range.
On the other side, senior guard Boogie Ellis had 21 points in the losing effort after dropping 27 against BYU last night. The former Memphis Tiger leads the team with 18.5 points per game.
“I’ve just been staying in the moment, taking it play by play,” Ellis said.
With 1:17 left to go in the first half, Ellis tried to pass to redshirt junior forward Joshua Morgan. Tennessee sophomore guard Jahmai Mashack picked the ball and took it all the way to the rim for a slam dunk and one to put the Volunteers up 36-29. Mashack flexed in celebration, while Enfield called a timeout.
Ellis responded by hitting a 3-pointer from the right side as the buzzer sounded to make it 37-34 Tennessee at the half. Then right out of the gates, Ellis tied the game with another three.
The Trojans took their first lead since the first half when Volunteer senior forward Uros Plavsic fouled Dixon-Waters, leading to two successful free-throws. The freebies were part of a 9-0 run that put the Trojans up 43-39 with 16:55 to go.
The hot hands became ice cold as the Trojans did not score for another six minutes. Tennessee sophomore forward Jonas Aidoo grabbed the lead back on a floater to make the score 46-45 Tennessee with 13:55 to go.
The back and forth continued for several minutes. With under 90 seconds left, Tennessee senior forward Olivier Nkamhoua leaped up and put back a shot from the left side of the basket to tie the game at 62 apiece. Peterson would go on to miss a potential game-winning buzzer-beater from half-court, sending the game into overtime.
After an Ellis jump shot tied the game at 66, Vescovi hit the only three pointer of the extra period to put the Vols up 69-66 with 1:45 to go.
A five-second violation by the Trojans denied them the chance to tie the game with under 90 seconds left. On the next USC possession, freshman guard Tre White bounced a pass out of bounds, putting the final nail in the coffin for the Trojans.
“Our players played hard, and they played well for most of the game,” Enfield said. “But we had six turnovers in overtime. It’s tough to continuously turn the ball over that many times.”
The Trojans will play Wisconsin in the Battle 4 Atlantis third-place game on Friday at 10 a.m. The Badgers are coming off of an overtime 69-68 loss to No. 3 Kansas.