November 27, 2016 by Seth Rubinroit
Shaqquan Aaron (Max Meyer/Galen Central)
By Seth Rubinroit
USC started a season with six consecutive wins for the first time since 2000-01, when David Blu, Sam Clancy and Brian Scalabrine led the Trojans to the Elite Eight.
The Trojans certainly did not look like an Elite Eight team when they went into halftime leading winless UCSB by just five points. But USC went on to score a season-high 96 points to defeat the Gauchos (0-5) by 24 points.
“We are thrilled to be 6-0 at this point because we have played some great teams,” coach Andy Enfield said.
Fans at the Galen Center received a free “Gettin’ Buckets” foam finger in the shape of the OK symbol. The giveaway resembled the hand gesture popularized at USC by Bennie Boatwright to celebrate made three-point baskets.
Appropriately enough, the Trojans scored their first nine points of the game on shots from beyond the arc. Overall, USC made a season-high 14 three-point shots out of 35 attempts against UCSB’s zone defense.
“The corners were wide open,” Enfield said.
Boatwright, who is nicknamed “Bennie Buckets,” made five three-pointers on his way to scoring a season-high 21 points. After missing the first two games of the season with a back injury, he is averaging 19 points over his last two games.
“He is getting back to where he needs to be,” Enfield said.
The Floor General
USC went into halftime with just eight points in the paint. But in the second half, when point guard Jordan McLaughlin gave his big men more opportunities down low, the Trojans scored 22 points in the paint.
“Jordan ran our team to perfection tonight,” Enfield said.
McLaughlin finished with five assists and one turnover, along with 13 points.
“To me it doesn’t matter if I score or pass the ball,” McLaughlin said, “as long as I make the right play.”
Play of the Game
This put-back by freshman De’Anthony Melton sent the crowd of 2,892 to its feet:
The Trojans will take the scenic I-5 freeway down to play at San Diego on Wednesday. In last season’s opener, USC defeated the Toreros by 38 points. This season San Diego (2-4) lost to UCLA by 20 points.
See USC’s full schedule here.