LOGAN, Utah — Too many missed defensive assignments, said USC guard J.T. Terrell. Too many missed rebounds, said center Omar Oraby. Too few steals, said new USC basketball Coach Andy Enfield.
What all the too many and too few added up to was a 78-65 loss by USC to Utah State in Enfield’s first game as Trojans head coach Friday night.
Senior guard Terrell led USC (0-1) with 20 points and Oraby had 15 points and nine rebounds, but the Trojans led only twice and a Utah State (1-0) team that has four returning starters and a 25-year-old center, was, Oraby said, “too tough for us tonight.”
Trojans Athletic Director Pat Haden sat behind the USC bench and patted his new coach on the back after the loss at a rocking Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. The crowd of 9,935 was almost a sellout for the 10,000-seat space and the noise was constant.
“It was a great atmosphere for college basketball,” an otherwise downcast Enfield said. “What a great place to play.”
It was probably a bad sign when 6-foot-10 Jarred Shaw scored on a hook shot over the 7-2 Oraby to open the game.
Oraby did give the Trojans their first lead, 9-7, and freshman Julian Jacobs, Enfield’s first player off the bench, put the Trojans up, 11-9, but that was the last USC lead.
By halftime Utah State was up, 40-33, and the Aggies started the second half with a three-pointer by guard TeNale Roland. With 16:28 left in the game Shaw pounded down an emphatic dunk to put Utah State up, 53-35.
They might not have admitted it, but the Trojans were finished by that point. As Terrell said, “We started throwing up bad shots like we could get the game back with one basket and we just didn’t play tough.”
Enfield pointed to only three steals and the fact the Aggies had 14 offensive rebounds as two of the reasons the Trojans couldn’t play the way his Florida Gulf Coast University team of a year ago had done. That team earned the name “Dunk City” and became the first NCAA No. 15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16.
“That team averaged nine steals a game,” Enfield said. “You run off steals. We had three. That was disappointing.” And all the offensive rebounds his team allowed the Aggies meant, Enfield said, “we were starting our offense from out of bounds and not running.”
The Aggies had 21 assists on their 29 baskets.
Enfield said he thought Utah State had “a lot of skilled players and they made a lot of tough shots.”
Terrell agreed the Aggies made tough shots but he also said, “We need to be tougher and more aggressive on defense. We didn’t play defense at the level we know we can.”
Utah State has now won 19 of its last 20 season openers. Coach Stew Morrill was mostly pleased with his team.
“It’s a good way to open the season with a great team coming in from a high-powered league,” said Morrill, perhaps overestimating the greatness of USC, which was picked to finish 11th in the 12-team Pac-12.