USC Basketball: Trojans back on track behind McLaughlin, Metu

In News by Ken Cross

By Manny Nunez

Southern Cal’s Chimezie Metu was congratulated before tipoff when he reached a personal milestone scoring 1000 career points, reaching it against Washington at their Pac-12 opener. It’s only fitting as he and Bennie Boatwright have been the sole leaders of the Trojan offense. For a change over the last two contests, senior Jordan McLaughlin has appeared in the spotlight with double digit scoring and that included last night’s crucial 70-58 home win over Colorado as he led the team to recovery from Sunday’s buzzer-beating loss at Stanford.

“I just had to be aggressive and make plays,” McLaughlin, who led the Trojans with 20 points, “I feel like I can do a good job finding the reads off the defense. My teammates help me create my shots and I was able to take advantage.”

While the leadership transferred to Metu and Boatwright, McLaughlin has had difficulty getting into a bit of rhythm offensively. Against Colorado, he finished with a team high 20 points,while leading with by going 4-for-4 from behind the arc. It was only McLaughlin’s tenth game scoring in double digits and his second time leading the team. In a game like this, McLaughlin could have used this performance as a huge pick-me-up.

“Jordan is very efficient,” Trojans head coach Andy Enfield said. “While he hasn’t done much to score, he is hard to take off the court when he can pass the ball. He can find his shot, but there is a reason why Jordan is a kind of guy that is more of a pass-first player.”

When USC would try to take control of the first half, Colorado would not let up. Twice the Trojans had a nine point lead, and twice the Buffs cut the lead to three in a matter of seconds on back-to-back three pointers. Both teams were also sloppy combining for 21 turnovers in the first 20 minutes. USC eventually was able to end the first half on a high note with free throws by Jordan McLaughlin and a three by Bennie Boatwright that gave them a four point lead at halftime.

The Trojans in the final 20 minutes used a number of runs and key turnovers that eventually took the game away from Colorado. They finished the night with 25 points off turnovers from the Buffs 22 miscues. Metu arguably had his best defensive performance of the season with 13 rebounds and 6 blocks.

“Chimezie had a career game,” Enfield said. “His players led him to play this kind of defensive game. All of our players kept their cool and throughout the entire game Metu played his heart out.”

USC, after having their hearts broken on the road against Stanford on a half court heave at the buzzer, needed a win and got it in a big way. Aside from George King and McKinley write, combining for 31 of the teams 58 points, the rest of the team only shot 10-for-31, which showed tremendous attention on the defensive end.

Utah comes to town Sunday, and the Trojans will use the extra few days of rest welcoming the Utes to a game where they could get back into competing for one of the top four spots in the Pac-12.

“The most difficult part is trying to duplicate our performance,” Enfield said. “We have to carry this kind of game on Sunday and beyond.”


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