LOS ANGELES -- In a game against a winless opponent, the USC men’s basketball team did all that was possible to finish the game against UC Santa Barbara on Sunday at the Galen Center. The Trojans looked more like a squad prepared for the grind of Pac-12 play as they was successful in pulling away with a 96-72 victory.
USC had all five starters to finish in double digits as great ball movement from the team led to 25 total assists on 33 made baskets. The game was very challenging for USC as the opposing team attacked them from the inside while playing a zone defense all night, leaving the corners open for them to make 40% of their three-point attempts.
Bennie Boatwright led the team with 21 points as Elijah Stewart added 18 points. Chimezie Metu and Shaqquan Aaron both added 15 points as Jordan McLaughlin contributed with 13 points for USC (6-0), improving their record against the Gauchos to improve 13-1.
At the start of the game, USC opened the game shooting from the top of the key. The first four baskets were three-pointers, two by Stewart and one each by Boatwright and McLaughlin, boosting their lead to 14-6 within the first four minutes. The Trojans ended the game 14 for 35 from beyond the arc.
The Gauchos (0-5) was able to close the lead to within 25-23 after a put-back by Alex Hart with 6:30 left in the first half, but Boatwright made a three-pointer, Stewart dunked off a length-of-the-court pass from McLaughlin and Aaron hit a corner three to build the lead back up to nine. Santa Barbara trailed 43-38 at the half despite USC's efforts of 8 of 19 long-range shots and being in the foul bonus for the last 8:55. Jalen Canty led the Gauchos with 16 points and 10 rebounds as Gabe Vincent added 15 points and Hard added 14.