Mobley brothers lead can’t-miss Trojans to rout over Washington
For six weeks, their floor general sat on the bench with a sore back, waiting eagerly to join the party. USC hadn’t needed Ethan Anderson much since Pac-12 play began. Not with the Mobley brothers making mincemeat of opposing defenses. But his triumphant return meant the Trojans were finally back to full strength.
And boy, did they look it on Thursday at Galen Center.
USC didn’t need much from its point guard to push around Washington, the Pac-12’s worst team, which entered the game with just a single victory in 10 tries this season. But with its final piece of the puzzle available, the Trojans put all the pieces together in a 95-68 shellacking of the Huskies.
Nearly 10 minutes had ticked off the clock before USC (10-2 , 4-1) missed a shot. By then, Evan Mobley had already asserted his will once again, swatting anything in sight on defense and dominating the paint on the other end. With Washington allowing him to work the post basically unabated, the star freshman simply set up camp down low, scoring 17 and reeling in six rebounds on a night when he sat for a large portion of the second half.
Shots that hadn’t fallen in recent games were suddenly dropping with ease early on. USC had hit just six of 43 from three-point range over its last two games and nearly lost to UC Riverside on Tuesday because of it.
Evan and Isaiah Mobley’s efforts helped USC escape against UC Riverside with a 67-62 overtime win at Galen Center on Tuesday.
Turns out, Washington’s zone defense was exactly what the Trojans needed to turn their long-range slump around. Tahj Eaddy hit two early threes, and USC hit four of its first six from beyond the arc. The Trojans hit just three more from there, finishing seven of 19, but the early barrage was enough to take the pressure off the paint, which opposing defenses have clogged whenever USC struggles.
“It’s nice to see those balls go in,” coach Andy Enfield said. “We need to spread the floor. The last two games, it was hard. It’s hard when three, four, five guys are in the paint. It hurts your offense.”
USC dominated in the paint (42 to 22 points), dominated on the fastbreak (22 to 6 points) and dominated the glass (41 to 31 rebounds). It moved the ball better, turned it over less (10 to 16), and scored more points off of those turnovers (20 to 10), powering an offense that would tie its season high in scoring with 95 points.
Washington had no answer for either of the Mobley brothers, who scored 35 between them, after scoring 36 in their last outing.
Isaiah Mobley scored career-high 18, but both brothers spent time toying with the Huskies, even trading early alley-oops from brother to brother.
“We had great chemistry this game,” Evan Mobley said. “Any time I got in the middle, I saw him down low. Same thing for me, he just threw it up to me and I finished. It forced them to come out of the zone early in the game.”
After a month spent on the bench, that chemistry was even felt by Anderson, whose first assist looked like an errant pass from beyond the arc, but ended an unusual alley-oop to Isaiah Mobley.
It was just one of those nights when the slump ceased and everything seemed to fall for USC. And in the midst of a grueling stretch of six games in 12 days, it couldn’t have come at a better time.
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