Trojans Brought Their Horse: Undefeated USC stops Cal’s streak at Haas, wins 77-63

By Morris Phillips

BERKELEY, CA–That rust enveloping the USC Trojans–built up over nearly three weeks following their last game on December 18–dissipated rather quickly.

The Cal Bears, hoping to catch USC out of sync, soon found themselves being dismantled by the visitors, with each, successive possession and after timeouts. Conceding too many opportunities on the glass, and bleeding points in the paint, the Bears were worn down in their first home defeat, losing 77-63.

“They’re good, and we have to play better to beat a great team,” coach Mark Fox admitted.

Cal started fast, holding their own in an uptempo start that saw the lead exchanged nine times in the first ten minutes. But it soon became apparent that the surprisingly disciplined Trojans were stout as advertised. First, USC showed unexpected proficiency at the foul line, converting 11 of their 13 attempts. Then the visitors controlled the glass (39-24 rebounding edge) and attacked the basket relentlessly (50-14 edge in points in the paint). Cal aided USC by shooting just 41 percent from the floor for the game, and sprinkling in some glaring, empty possessions.

“We felt like we gave the game away,” said Grant Anticevich, who led Cal with 19 points. “Credit to USC. They are a top-10 team for a reason. But we just made too many mistakes.”

“Once we started defending at a higher level, we took the lead,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “Our defense in the second half was outstanding.”

Isaiah Mobley led the Trojans with 19 points, and Drew Peterson added 17. Boogie Ellis, the transfer guard from Memphis, had 14.

Jordan Shepherd scored 17 points, and Andre Kelly came up with 13 points, 11 rebounds, but the Bears got almost no secondary help. Starters Kuany Kuany and Joel Brown were factors defensively, but failed to make a shot from the floor, far less than what was needed to aid Cal’s upset bid. Jalen Celestine scored 10 points off the bench but could have played a bigger factor were it not a couple of questionable decisions with the ball in his hands.

Cal trimmed their deficit to 54-50 with 9:20 remaining only to see the Trojans surge again and regain their double-digit advantage. What started on the defensive end incorporated high percentage shooting as USC shot 64 percent after halftime.

“We made some positive plays,” Fox said. “We just didn’t threaten enough in the second half.”

MISSING MATT?: In an interesting comparison, the Cal transfer that has many saying “what if?” Matt Bradley has already seen USC this season. Bradley opted to forgo his stature as Cal’s go-to guy, transferred to San Diego State, and his Aztecs faced the Trojans in the Paycom Wooden Legacy Championship Game in Anaheim on November 26.

It didn’t go well for Bradley.

The Trojans’ length and singular focus on getting Bradley stopped, paid off as the 6’3″ guard was limited to three points in 25 minutes on the floor. Bradley shot 1 for 7, including 0 for 4 from three.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s