The USC Trojans defeated Portland Pilots 76-65. Trojans started with a strong run and never looked back. Star freshman Onyeka Olakongwu helped spark the early run with his defense and two first ferocious dunks. Olakongwu finished the game strong with 20 points and ten rebounds, his second straight game with a double-double. Head coach Andy Enfield says Olakongwu plays a vital position for them and needs him to keep being relentless.

“We don’t run a ton of plays for him; we run a few. But he’s constantly within the offense. He’s ball screening, rolling to the rim, posting up, going for the offensive glass, and running the floor. He does a lot of it on his own but in our system. He plays a critical position for us and he does it very well.”

Sophomore Elijah Weaver scored 12 points to push the young talented Trojans forward, which forced Portland to call timeouts and make some adjustments. It seems like USC focus was to push the tempo early in the game, and it caused trouble for Portland. The Trojans are an extremely talented, explosive team, and they have a deep roster. Give credit to their defense for forcing Portland to take difficult shots and ten first-half turnovers. They weren’t able to break away because of their costly turnovers. Every time the Trojans would make a run, they would let Portland back in the game, making simple turnovers. “We had some uncharacteristic passes, poor decisions, and a couple charges. We have to do a better job. A lot of our players are good offensively. Can’t turn the ball over 20 times and expect to win a game. We cut those turnovers to ten, and we would probably win the game more comfortably.”

Young freshman Ethan Anderson demonstrated his leadership skills. Anderson had ten assists, which is almost half of USC total of 21 assists. He had two turnovers, which is too many, and he plans to get better throughout the season. “Going forward, I have to be able to take care of the ball a little bit better. I had more turnovers than I wanted to. Seniors like Jonah and my coaches give me confidence when I have the ball to make my reads and my proper decisions. It’s a reason you have this talent around you. I can get in the paint and find the open guys.” Enfield spoke on the talented point guard Anderson’s leadership as well. “He had a controlled game. I thought he made the right reads. Anytime you get 10 assists in an impressive game, especially as a freshman. He has excellent court vision, he’s a tough kid. I thought he gave us a big jump off the bench.”

With that said, they are a young team that shows a lot of promise. Enfield is ready for the challenges that come with being a young team. “We have a lot of interchangeable parts on our team, and they have to play multiple positions. Some nights they are going to play great, some nights they are not going to play so well. Most of the season is going to be somewhere in between. They have to be prepared just to compete and grind it out like we did tonight, even when we’re not playing our best.”


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