USC guard Elijah Stewart’s game-winning shot reignites college basketball’s oddest feud

USC guard Elijah Stewart weighs his options as he's defended by SMU guard Ben Emelogu II during the first half Friday night.
(Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press)

Elijah Stewart has long three-point range and, apparently, a longer memory.

In an exuberant postgame locker room following USC’s dramatic 66-65 win over Southern Methodist on Friday, Stewart talked about his late three-pointer that won the game. Then he returned to a long-running feud.

He turned to a reporter and said, “Hey, tag the Post Man.”


“Your guy who worked for the quote-unquote government.”

Ken Pom?

“Ken Pom.”

Some back story: “Ken Pom” is Ken Pomeroy, the influential basketball statistician whose publicly available metrics last month listed USC as the luckiest team in college basketball. Stewart took offense, and his umbrage was noted in a Times article.

“Unless Jesus runs that site, it’s not very credible to me,” Stewart said at the time. “If you’re so good at telling the future, work for the government.”

“Well, Elijah Stewart, I did work for the government,” Pomeroy responded on Twitter.


A grudge was born. Well, at least for Stewart. It gnawed at him enough that, weeks later, he asked what exactly Pomeroy’s government work entailed. He was convinced Pomeroy worked as a mail carrier. Hence “Post Man.” Get it?

Pomeroy, who earned a civil engineering degree from Virginia Tech and a graduate degree in atmospheric science from Wyoming, was a meteorologist. His work as a statistician has become widely respected. Celtics Coach Brad Stevens and Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski were early admirers and consumers of his work.

Stewart’s anger appears to be mostly genuine if somewhat tongue in cheek.

Pomeroy, too, has appeared mostly amused by the ongoing grudge. After learning of Stewart’s latest retort, he posted on Twitter again.

“Any publicity is … publicity,” he wrote.

Stewart was in a particularly effusive mood after the USC game. Teammates gathered around a phone to watch a highlight of SMU’s Semi Ojeleye throwing down a vicious putback dunk … over Stewart. His teammates hooted.

‘He’s got a fresh charter back with his dunk too,” Stewart told reporters. “He can watch it the whole flight.”

The irony is that Stewart’s shot actually boosted USC’s statistical luck factor. USC no longer is the luckiest team in college basketball. It has dropped to eighth. The stat simply measures how many more close games a team wins than expected. And Stewart’s shot added one more to the tally.

For Stewart, though, it seemed like destiny. In the locker room, he recounted with guard Jonah Mathews how Mathews had predicted Stewart’s game-winning shot during a late timeout.

He turned from Mathews to face a reporter.

“My man can tell the future,” he said.

Then he smirked.

Follow Zach Helfand on Twitter @zhelfand