The USC men’s basketball team benefited from a poor shooting night by the California Golden Bears, winning their first home game of the year 88-56. All except one Trojan put points on the scoreboard with three Trojans scoring in the double digits.
Senior guard Jonah Mathews led USC with 19 points, freshman forward Onyeka Okongwu made eight rebounds. Sophomore guard Matt Bradley scored 13 points for the Golden Bears and three Cal players tied for the game high of five rebounds.
Senior guard Daniel Utomi put on a contending performance, making a season high of 17 points and seven rebounds. USC also managed to keep their turnovers low, only allowing 14. In three of their past four games, the Trojans had at least 19 turnovers.
“It gets up there, you’re really giving possessions away against good teams, it’s hard to win,” said USC men’s basketball head coach Andy Enfield. “If we can be around 12 or 13, we’re okay. We can win games like that as long as we can do the other things.
The Trojans profited from the Bears slow start and were up by four points at the first time out. Seniors Nick Rakocevic and Mathews made key baskets to get the Trojans a 17-6 lead. While the Golden Bears searched for their shooting rhythm, they kept their turnovers to a minimum while forcing turnovers on the Trojans.
Bradley made back-to-back threes and Kareem South scored a bucket, this helped the Bears bring their deficit to three points. The Trojans responded with solid shooting from behind the arc and plays that excited the crowd, creating an eight-point run.
“My coach and my teammates do a very good job of putting me in the right spots,” Utomi said. He made 10 points and six rebounds in the first half. “My job is to out there and just shoot the ball and make it.”
At halftime the Trojans was ahead 41-25. The Golden Bears were 9-30 from the field and 4-15 in three pointers. Despite their poor shooting, the Golden Bears were disciplined, only giving up two turnovers.
USC continued to live by the three, shooting as high as 62.5 percent from behind the arc. Missing shots made it difficult for the Golden Bears to keep up.
California also experienced foul troubles with center Lars Thiemann fouling out. Golden Bears leading scorer Bradley was sidelined with four fouls and freshman forward D.J. Thorpe also had four fouls. Both teams were sent to the line, USC had more success gaining charity points. This expanded their lead to beyond 30 points by the final buzzer.
Mathews noted how their 74-63 win over the UCLA Bruins on January 11 was the catalyst to their victory over California.
“We just picked up from there and we really got hot that game, especially with [Utomi] in deep corner shots and I happened to piggyback off him,” Mathews said. “We just carried it on and made more shots.”
The Trojans will travel up the coast to play against the Oregon Ducks on Junary 23 at 8:00P.M.