November 13, 2016 by Max Meyer
By Max Meyer
After another sluggish start, USC was able to bounce back to defeat Omaha 82-72 Sunday at the Galen Center to move to 2-0 on the season. The Trojans quickly fell behind 16-7 against the Mavericks (1-1), but a series of thunderous dunks and five players scoring in double figures helped pave the way for a comeback.
Shaqquan Aaron led the way for the Trojans with 16 points. Jordan McLaughlin, Elijah Stewart and De’Anthony Melton combined for 13 assists while only turning the ball over six times. It was one of USC’s forwards, though, that shined the brightest thanks to his vast improvement of avoiding whistles.
One Thing I Liked: Chimezie Metu’s Defense Without Fouling
Metu had a very promising freshman season for the Trojans, but often couldn’t play substantial minutes because he would seemingly always get into foul trouble. It definitely can be difficult to adjust to the speed of the college game compared to high school.
In the first two games of his sophomore campaign, however, the USC big man has been able to stay on the floor and defend in the same impactful manner.
Last season, Metu committed 5.4 fouls per 40 minutes. In wins over Montana and Omaha, that number has dropped to 2.4. He’s played 48 out of a possible 60 minutes thus far, and that’s especially important since the depth at forward has taken a hit with Bennie Boatwright has missed the first two games with back spasms.
“Just knowing what they’re calling and what they’re not calling,” Metu said on the difference. “Last year I came in kind of blind. As a freshman, it seems like they’re picking on you. But this year, I watched a lot of film, and I saw what they’re calling fouls and what wasn’t it foul. I just adjusted.”
Metu had 15 points and 11 boards, and displayed his strong skills as a rim protector with his five swatted shots. The rebounds and blocks tied career highs. Omaha shot only 37.8 percent on two-pointers, and a big reason why is how often Metu can influence attempts close to the basket.
“He’s learning as a player,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “He’s done a great job of defending, blocking shots when he has to and he had 11 rebounds. His development is coming and we’re very excited for him.”
1. Even though he was a guard, Julian Jacobs was one of the team’s best rebounders. With Jacobs declaring for the NBA Draft after last season, it seems like Melton will seamlessly slip into that role. The freshman guard had nine rebounds after bringing down eight boards in the season opener. He also had three steals.
“Some people would say that I’m known for my defense,” Melton said. “I just really want to try to get as many deflections as I can, limit their possessions and increase ours. If that means I have to steal the ball rather than just a regular rebound, that just really helps our team.”
2. Freshmen Jonah Mathews and Nick Rakocevic each converted on their first career USC field goal Sunday after being held in check against Montana.
3. The one guy the Trojans seemingly couldn’t stop was Omaha guard Marcus Tyus. Tyus had a career-high 33 points, including six threes. In fact, Tyus made 6 of his 9 (66.7 percent) threes, while every other USC and Omaha player combined to shoot 9 of 38 (23.7 percent) from beyond the arc.
4. If you don’t catch this emphatic Stewart slam on SportsCenter tonight, make sure to check it out here. The junior seriously has some impressive athleticism.
5. USC has won its last 12 non-conference games at home. The team’s next game, however, is a big one on the road. The Trojans will take on Texas A&M, the defending SEC champions, on Friday at 4 PM PT. The game will be televised on SEC Network.