Texas A&M visits hot-shooting USC (Nov 26, 2017)
A showdown of Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference undefeated teams tips off Sunday at Galen Center in Los Angeles, with No. 10 USC hosting No. 16 Texas A&M.
The Trojans (4-0) followed up an overtime win at Vanderbilt last Sunday with an 88-63 rout of Lehigh on Wednesday. The common theme in both wins: USC's 3-point shooting.
The Trojans connected on more than 46 percent of their attempts from behind the arc in both contests. In an indicator of USC's offensive versatility, the sources of those makes changed from game-to-game.
Guard Jordan McLaughlin made five 3-pointers en route to a career-high 35 points at Vanderbilt, while guard Jonah Mathews knocked down four for a season-high 18 points against Lehigh.
"Jonah knows what to bring every day. He knows how to play defense and score," guard Elijah Stewart said of Mathews in the post-game press conference following the Lehigh win.
Mathews is one of four Trojans averaging in double figures at 10.5 points per game, joining McLaughlin at 16, forward Chimezie Metu at 17.5 and forward Bennie Boatwright at 18.5.
USC will need to continue its effective offensive balance to solve a Texas A&M defense ranked No. 9 nationally in adjusted efficiency, per KenPom.com metrics.
The Aggies (5-0) beat Pepperdine on Friday, 81-65, making the Waves the fourth opponent Texas A&M held to 65 points or fewer on the young season. One such opponent was West Virginia, which Texas A&M blasted in the Nov. 10 season opener 88-65.
Despite the win over Pepperdine, Aggies coach Billy Kennedy said in his postgame press conference that the Waves caused the Texas A&M defense problems by utilizing a four-guard look.
"Our energy wasn't very good at times but when we needed to, we were able to raise it up a level," Kennedy said.
USC coach Andy Enfield has the option of playing a heavy guard rotation but he faces a potential game-defining choice countering Texas A&M's size.
Aggies forward D.J. Hogg is averaging 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists per game, with center Tyler Davis putting up 14 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Big man Robert Williams is a potential lottery pick. Kennedy also rotates in 6-foot-10 center Tonny Trocha-Morelos, averaging nine points and 4.8 rebounds per game.
USC has length to contend with the Aggies between Metu and Boatwright, but the face-up style of Boatwright also allows the Trojans to play a four-man perimeter offense. Enfield has found success deploying a zone defense early in the season, though that might not be a solution for Texas A&M.
The Aggies are shooting a torrid 46.8 percent from behind the 3-point arc, led by guard Admon Gilder's blistering 58.8 percent. The Aggies can stretch the floor in a fashion similar to USC and Boatwright, courtesy of Trocha-Morelos, who averages 2.8 3-point attempts a game.
Opponents shoot 30.3 percent from deep against USC, and 42.2 percent inside the arc.