USC Basketball vs Omaha: Trojans Grab Late Win
USC basketball notched their second victory of the season, waiting to take control until late against Omaha at the Galen Center, 82-72.
The lowdown: The Trojans followed a similar script as their victory over Montana in the season opener, falling behind to a hot-shooting Omaha.
The Mavericks hit three of their first three attempts from distance, building a 19-11 lead.
USC’s Elijah Stewart also got off to a quick start, knocking down his first two shots, but the Trojans used a combination of scoring from a variety of players, including Chimezie Metu and Jordan McLaughlin, to creep back into the game, eventually tying it up at 21 midway through the half.
Unlike Montana, Omaha answered the Trojans, pushing their lead back up to 32-23 with Marcus Tyus asserting himself in the lane.
An awakening from Shaqquan Aaron boosted USC back into contention as the half neared an end. His seven points helped draw the Trojans to within three of Omaha at the half, 37-34.
The second half began much like the first, with the Mavericks weathering every push by the Trojans. A steal by freshman De’Anthony Melton led to a fastbreak dunk by Shaqquan Aaron to draw USC close at 45-43.
Later, back-to-back dunks by Metu and Melton kept the Trojans in it but as before, Omaha was quick to respond to every USC assault on the lead.
That is, until eight minutes left in the half when a three-pointer from Aaron in the corner tied the game at 53 and the Trojans made a sequence of defensive stops to flip the scoreboard.
A McLaughlin three from the corner boosted USC to their biggest lead of the night, a 67-59 advantage with four minutes remaining.
When, with a minute to go, the Trojans broke the Omaha full court press and Stewart flew threw the air for a slam dunk putting USC up 73-66, it was over.
The takeaway: It hasn’t taken long for the Louisville transfer, Aaron, to make himself an integral member of USC’s squad in 2016. In his second game as a Trojan, he led the team with 16 points after a 17-point outing on Friday night.
Aaron’s scoring has helped cover the deficit left by Bennie Boatwright, who missed his second game with back spasms.
Metu also built on his strong performance in USC’s first game of the season, logging 13 points and leading the team with 11 rebounds and five blocks. His progress as a sophomore will likely be key to any success Andy Enfield’s squad finds this year.
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The Trojans used their length to knock seven total shots out of the way and win the rebounding battle, but poor shooting made it difficult to either take control or put Omaha away. USC went 28-of-74 on shots from the field and just 7-of-24 from distance.
Enfield will hope for better performances as the season progresses, but all things considered, USC’s ability to fight back has merits on its own.
Player of the game: Chimezie Metu, 15 points, 11 rebounds, 5 blocks.
Stat of the game: Metu accounted for five of USC’s seven blocks — more than Omaha had total.
Next on tap: The Trojans travel to College Station on Friday to take on the Texas A&M Aggies at 4:00 p.m.