For one night, at least, the fast-paced basketball embraced by
Led by their standout freshman guard Jordan McLaughlin, the Trojans effectively ran right past Loyola Marymount for a 77-61 win Wednesday night at Galen Center.
It was USC's third consecutive victory and fourth win in its last five games. The win lifted the Trojans' record to 5-3 while the Lions fell to 3-4.
The Trojans led by 15 at halftime and never relinquished the lead as they galloped up and down the court, made brisk passes and shot with little hesitation.
Although there was an assortment of airballs, dropped balls under the basket and other miscues, USC was 29 for 62 shooting (46.8%) versus 25 for 68 (36.8%) for Loyola Marymount.
McLaughlin, again showing why he's been the Trojans' early season star, led the club with 18 points. The Etiwanda native entered the game leading the team in scoring, assists and steals.
He also made the Trojans' key baskets in the second half.
With about 10 minutes left, Loyola Marymount went on a 7-0 run that slashed USC's lead to nine points.
But McLaughlin answered with consecutive three-point baskets to again give the Trojans a double-digit advantage. The Lions never threatened again.
"He's a natural leader and it's really easy to play with him," said Julian Jacobs, McLaughlin's teammate, who had 14 points.
Enfield, Jacobs and others said USC's effort partly reflected momentum from the Trojans' 66-54 victory at New Mexico on Sunday.
"That was a big game for us," Enfield said, adding that on Wednesday, "our guys just turned up the heat a little bit. Our young players are getting better.
"We just need to take care of the basketball," Enfield said. "We still have too many turnovers in transition with guys mishandling the ball or making errant passes."
The Lions' star is sophomore guard Evan Payne of Akron, Ohio, one of the top scorers in the nation with an average of 21.7 points per game entering the USC game.
He scored 19 points Wednesday, starting with a half-court heave for a three-pointer that came as the shot clock sounded during the Lions' first possession.
The Trojans built their halftime lead with a broad-based attack, with Nikola Jovanovic scoring eight points and McLaughlin and Katin Reinhardt each scoring six. Reinhardt converted three three-point shots on the night and finished with 11 points.
The Trojans' field-goal percentage in the half was 41.9% versus 28.1% for Loyola Marymount.