USC opens season with convincing win over CSUN
Any fear USC men’s basketball coach Andy Enfield might have had that his team would take Cal State Northridge lightly disappeared 10 minutes into Tuesday night’s season opener at Galen Center.
The Trojans ran their half-court offense to perfection and used tenacious defense to create nine turnovers and build a 33-point halftime lead on the way to an 89-49 nonconference victory. The best part for the USC players was having fans in the stands — and they gave their faithful plenty to cheer about.
“It was a good opening win. We played hard, we shared the ball, and we had 1,000 students show up early, which was nice to see,” said USC coach Andy Enfield, who admittedly had little to critique as he starts his ninth season at the helm. “It’s hard to pick apart a game where you block six shots, get eight steals, score 52 points in the paint, score 20 points off turnovers and hold the other team to 49 points. We built the lead on defense, and the effort was there for 40 minutes. We have 13 scholarship players, and they all played.”
Coming off a 25-win season in which it finished second in the Pac-12 Conference and reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament, USC piled up 52 points by intermission. Transfer Boogie Ellis (15 points), fellow guard Drew Peterson (10) and forward Isaiah Mobley (13) each had double digits by halftime. Ellis had a game-high 20 points.
The older brother of Evan Mobley, who was named Pac-12 player of the year, freshman of the year and defensive player of the year last winter in his one season at USC before being selected third in the NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Isaiah Mobley finished with 15 points, nine rebounds and three assists in less than 27 minutes of action.
“It was extremely fun, and having the Trojan family back made it that much better,” Mobley said. “It takes a village to make another tournament run, so we wanted to get everyone involved and we did. Boogie and I played well off each other — he’s an excellent playmaker.”
Ellis earned co-sixth man of the year in the American Athletic Conference as a sophomore at Memphis last year and was excited to come back to Southern California, where he grew up. He graduated from Mission Bay High in 2019.
“It was a great experience, and I’m happy to be back home,” Ellis said.
Peterson finished with 14 points, senior forward Chevez Goodwin had eight points and seven rebounds, and sophomore forward Boubacar Coulibay recorded seven points and six rebounds. USC never trailed and outrebounded Northridge 40-25.
With an interim head coach, Trent Johnson, and eight new players, the Matadors were led by guards Elijah Hardy and Darius Brown II, who each scored 10 points.
With Evan Mobley now playing in the NBA, USC faces a tall task in reprising the feats of its memorable 2020-21 season.
Northridge dropped to 1-8 all-time against USC.
“What did I learn from this game?” Enfield was asked. “That it was fun to play in front of fans again.”
Go beyond the scoreboard
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