USC still unbeaten after Hoophall LA win

The USC Trojans men's basketball team remain undefeated after defeating the BYU Cougars. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com

LOS ANGELES-The USC Trojans came to play on Saturday night, defeating the BYU Cougars 91-84 in the second game of the inaugural Hoophall double-header at Staples Center.

BYU jumped out to a 10-point advantage behind Eric Mika’s 15 first half points, but the Trojans continued to play aggressive, taking a seven-point lead to end the first half.

USC was able to use their length and athleticism to harass the Cougars on defense, holding them to just 5 of 23 from 3-point range and gobbling up 11 steals.

Five USC players scored in double figures, leading the Trojans to their eighth win of the season. Jordan McLaughlin scored a team-high 24 points and grabbed six rebounds and four assists. Shaqquan Aaron had 19 points, five rebounds and two assists; Elijah Stewart added 16 points and five rebounds while De’Anthony Melton had 12 points, eight rebounds and six assists off the bench.

USC played their first game without forward Bennie Boatwright (10.8 ppg), who will be out for approximately six weeks with a sprained left knee.

USC guard/forward Shaqquan Aaron looks for someone to pass the ball to in the Trojans' 91-84 win against the BYU Cougars in Hoophall LA. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com
USC guard/forward Shaqquan Aaron looks for someone to pass the ball to in the Trojans’ 91-84 win against the BYU Cougars in Hoophall LA. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com

The Trojans remain one of only four undefeated West Coast teams in the NCAA.

“We’re a better team now than we were early last year because of our defense,” USC head coach Andy Enfield said after the game. “We’re able to defend. This team is very unique because whether we go big or small we’re able to defend.”

The Cougars trailed by as many as 16 in the second half, but went on an 11-3 run to close the period making it 80-75. The Trojans answered with a 3-pointer from De’Anthony Melton that sealed the game with 1:10 remaining.

Mica scored a game-high 29 points and had nine rebounds in the Cougar’s third loss of the season. TJ Haws scored 16 points while Nick Emery added 15 points, five rebounds and two assists.

“One of the big things was to keep their bigs off the boards,” Mika said after the game. “We knew their bigs were super active. It was tough to cover all those guys, to be in all those places at the same time. They did a heck of a job crashing the boards.”

BYU is now 5-3 on the season and will face the Weber State Wildcats on Wednesday, December 7.

The Trojans are 8-0 overall, and will play the Pepperdine Waves on Sunday, December 11.

Joey Thomas
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