January 10, 2018 by Sam Dodge
Note: Wednesday games will have abbreviated thoughts, rather than full recaps. I’m a master’s student at USC, and I have class in the evenings during games. Secret streaming in class for the win.
Chimezie Metu, 4, fights through a foul against Colorado Wednesday night. He connected on eight free throws to finish with 14 points. (AP/Mark J. Terrill)
LOS ANGELES – Chimezie Metu loomed large, notching a double-double off 14 points and 13 rebounds to go with six blocks to fuel a convincing 70-58 victory over the Colorado Buffaloes Wednesday night at Galen Center.
After Nik Rakocevic entered after the first media timeout to catalyze an 11-3 run to seize the lead, Metu took the baton to offer his best defensive game of the season.
Colorado never felt comfortable and cooled off considerably after their scorching shooting over the ranked Arizona schools last week.
Jordan McLaughlin offered an incredibly efficient performance with 20 points on eight shots, but the real story is the defensive response from a bad 10 minutes in Palo Alto.
The numbers were comprehensively impressive:
- .85 points a possession
- The lowest points allowed against a Power Five conference team
- 31 percent shooting on twos
- 22 turnovers, including 12 steals
Several players had their defensive moments.
Metu angrily swatted two blocks in one possession, leading to a key run early in the second half to take control.
Jordan Usher scored a layup off a steal, affected a shot two possessions later and broke open for a transition three at the 12-minute mark of the first half.
Perhaps most impressively, Jordan McLaughlin stole the ball to prevent a Colorado fast-break layup to take the lead in the second half. He followed that up immediately with one of his four threes.
While the end of the Stanford game showed the frustrating inconsistency of the interior defense, the truth is the defense a bad 10 minutes away from a perfect record since Washington.
After five games, the Trojans rank No. 2 defensively in the conference per Kenpom, and first in forcing turnovers.
While tonight might be the result of a Colorado team regressing to the mean after two anomalous performances last week, it’s undeniable the vast improvement on defense, especially in the frontcourt.
- As the Los Angeles Times reporter Shotgun Spratling observed, Andy Enfield spent half-time warmups reinforcing five-on-four defensive concepts. This is a guy known for his top-ranked defenses as an assistant at Florida State (2006-2011), for what it’s worth.
- Enfield didn’t shake Colorado head coach Tad Boyle’s hand after the game. Boyle made light of USC’s FBI investigation into assistant coach Tony Bland and his alleged association with De’Anthony Melton.
- Speaking of Melton, word on his eligibility is due in the next week.
- USC won by 12 despite shooting under 40 percent from two and 61 percent from the charity stripe. They made up for it with 53 percent from behind the arc, but it emphasizes how vital the defensive effort was.
- Trojan opponents have 72 turnovers in the last four games, which equates to 18 giveaways a contest.
USC improves to 12-6 overall and 3-2 in the Pac-12. They face Utah in Galen Center on Sunday night at 5:00 PST on ESPNU.
The Utes visit Westwood tomorrow night. Right now, Kenpom projects a 78-73 win for the Trojans with a 67 percent chance of snagging their 13th win.