No. 20 USC Men's Basketball Hosts Utah Wednesday To Open Pac-12 Play
LOS ANGELES — The No. 20 USC Trojans (6-0) open Pac-12 play at home on Wednesday (Dec. 1), hosting Utah for an 8:30 p.m. matchup at the Galen Center. Roxy Bernstein and Don MacLean will have the call on the Pac-12 Network. USC is 6-0 to start the season for the first time since 2014, when USC opened the campaign 14-0. The Trojans are one of 20 undefeated teams still remaining in college basketball.
THE 2021-22 TROJANS - The USC Trojans return six of their top eight scorers from the 2020-21 team which went 25-8, finished second in the Pac-12 by percentage points and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight. Gone are leading scorers Evan Mobley (NBA) and Tahj Eaddy (G-League), but back are forwards Isaiah Mobley, Chevez Goodwin and Max Agbonkpolo and guards Ethan Anderson, Drew Peterson and Isaiah White, almost all logging over 500 minutes of action last season. In all, 11 players return and the Trojans have added transfer guard Boogie Ellis, the AAC Co-Sixth Man of the Year, and three new freshmen, including California Gatorade Player of the Year guard Malik Thomas.
WINNING WAYS - USC had a 47-17 record the last two seasons which ranked third among all of the schools in the six power basketball conferences (ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, AAC and the Pac-12). The Trojans went 25-8 during the 2020-21 season and have won 20 or more games in five of the last six seasons under Andy Enfield. The 25 wins last season were tied for the second most in school history, one behind the USC record of 26 wins set in 2017 (26-10). USC's 134 wins in the last six seasons were tied for 15th among all of the Power 6 conference schools.
WOODEN LEGACY TITLE - The Trojans are coming off of two wins at the Wooden Legacy Tournament over Thanksgiving week, beating Saint Joseph's (70-55) and San Diego State (58-43) to win the tournament title. Boogie Ellis led USC in scoring with 17 points against Saint Joseph's and Isaiah Mobley led the way with 18 points against the Aztecs. Mobley also led the Trojans in rebounds in both games, grabbing 11 boards against the Hawks and 12 against San Diego State to earn tournament MVP honors. It is the second time USC has won the event, with the Trojans winning the inaugural Wooden Legacy in 2007 (then called the Anaheim Classic).
FACING UTAH - The Utes (5-1) opened the season 5-0 before suffering their first loss of the season at home against No. 18 BYU last Saturday (Nov. 27 - 75-64). Utah has yet to play a true road game this season, hosting four home games and playing two neutral-site contests in Daytona Beach, Fla. at the Sunshine Slam. Junior center Branden Carlson leads the Utes with 15.7 points per game, followed by senior guard David Jenkins Jr. with 13.7 points per game. Utah went 12-13 last year finishing eighth in the Pac-12. The Trojans bounced the Utes from the 2020 Pac-12 Tournament with a 91-85 double-OT victory in the second round.
BIG MEN, BIG NUMBERS - Big men Isaiah Mobley and Chevez Goodwin have been at the forefront of USC's success so far this season. Goodwin is the Trojans' second leading scorer with 13.2 points per game and is also second on the team with 7.5 rebounds per game. His 67.3% shooting from the floor is best among a Trojans squad shooting just shy of 50% on the season. Mobley is averaging just short of a double-double so far on the year with 12.2 points per game and a team-high 9.2 rebounds per contest. Mobley is also 8-of-22 from three this season and has four blocks and six steals.
BOOGIE LEADING THE WAY - Memphis transfer Boogie Ellis has been USC's leading scorer in three of the team's first five games this season, currently averaging a team-best 17.0 points per game. Ellis leads the Trojans in threes (9), free throws (12), steals (5) and minutes played (29.4). The junior guard has started all five games this season for USC and his 20 points in the Trojans' opener are tied for a team high this year. Ellis averaged 10.2 points per game and was the AAC co-Sixth Man of the Year last season at Memphis.
PROTECT AND SHARE - The Trojans have taken care of the rock and made sure to spread it around so far this season, with USC's 1.92 assist/turnover ratio the sixth best in the country heading into Pac-12 play. The Trojans' 8.7 turnovers per game are the fifth fewest in the NCAA and their 16.7 assists per game are 37th in the nation. 100 of USC's 186 field goals have been assisted this season.
THE MAGIC MARK - With its 58-43 win over San Diego State (11/26), USC is now 94-5 in its last 99 games when holding the opposition to under 70 points, dating back to Feb. 28, 2015. USC has held 29 of its last 42 opponents to under 70 points dating back to the 2019-20 season.
DEFENSIVE PROWESS - USC's defense has been up to the task so far this season, with the Trojans sitting seventh in the country in field goal defense, holding opponents to just 31.6% shooting. The team is also tied for seventh in the NCAA with 31.67 defensive rebounds per game, helping USC to the 20th best scoring margin in the country at +19.8 ppg.