USC men’s basketball goes cold late in loss to UConn

  • USC’s Evan Mobley shoots over Connecticut’s Tyrese Martin, up front, and Adama Sanogo during the second half of Thursday’s game in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo / Jessica Hill)

  • USC men’s basketball goes cold late in loss to UConn

    Connecticut’s James Bouknight, right, is fouled by USC’s Drew Peterson, left, as he drives to the basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday December 3, 2020 in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo / Jessica Hill)

  • Sound

    The gallery will resumeseconds

  • USC men’s basketball goes cold late in loss to UConn

    USC’s Drew Peterson shoots over Connecticut’s Jalen Gaffney, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, December 3, 2020, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo / Jessica Hill)

  • USC men’s basketball goes cold late in loss to UConn

    Isaiah Whaley of Connecticut, right, blocks a shot from USC’s Max Agbonk polo during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, December 3, 2020 in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo / Jessica Hill)

  • USC men’s basketball goes cold late in loss to UConn

    Connecticut’s Josh Carlton, 25, celebrates with Isaiah Whaley, back, and James Bouknight, right, during the first half of their game against USC on Thursday in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo / Jessica Hill)

  • USC men’s basketball goes cold late in loss to UConn

    Connecticut’s Josh Carlton, 25, fouls USC’s Max Agbonk polo during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday December 3, 2020 in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo / Jessica Hill)

  • USC men’s basketball goes cold late in loss to UConn

    Connecticut’s James Bouknight, right, is fouled by USC’s Drew Peterson, left, as he drives to the basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday December 3, 2020 in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo / Jessica Hill)

  • USC men’s basketball goes cold late in loss to UConn

    Josh Carlton, 25, of Connecticut, responds to a call in UConn’s favor during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against USC on Thursday, December 3, 2020 in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo / Jessica Hill)

  • USC men’s basketball goes cold late in loss to UConn

    USC’s Evan Mobley (4) blocks a shot from Connecticut’s James Bouknight during the second half of an NCAA basketball game on Thursday, December 3, 2020 in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo / Jessica Hill)

  • USC men’s basketball goes cold late in loss to UConn

    Connecticut coach Dan Hurley calls to the team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against USC on Thursday, December 3, 2020 in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo / Jessica Hill)

  • USC men’s basketball goes cold late in loss to UConn

    Connecticut’s Tyrese Martin goes for a basket during the first half of the team’s NCAA college basketball game against Southern California, Thursday, December 3, 2020, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo / Jessica Hill)

  • USC men’s basketball goes cold late in loss to UConn

    USC’s Drew Peterson, center, shoots under pressure from Connecticut’s Tyrese Martin, left, and Josh Carlton during the second half of Thursday’s game in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo / Jessica Hill)

  • USC men’s basketball goes cold late in loss to UConn

    Connecticut’s James Bouknight, center, and Adama Sanogo, right, celebrate with RJ Cole after Cole gained possession when the clock ended at the end of Thursday’s game against USC in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo / Jessica Hill)

The USC men’s basketball team just kept hanging out against Connecticut on Thursday night. The Trojans’ disciplined defense had helped reduce a 13-point deficit in the second half to a single possession game.

But the Trojan crime turned cold at the worst possible moment. After playing an Isaiah Mobley jumper with 8:06, USC missed 13 of the last 14 shots, including three misses on the last possession, as USC had a chance to tie with 34.3 seconds of play.

But with all three shots – the first a wild lay-up by Drew Peterson, the next two missed tries by Noah Baumann and Evan Mobley – bouncing harmlessly off the edge, the Trojans dropped their first game of the season, 61-58 , at the Legends Classic at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

“It was a struggle to score,” said USC head coach Andy Enfield.

USC (3-1) was led by Evan Mobley, who had 17 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots and went 9 for 11 off the free-throw line. UConn guard James Bouknight led all scorers with 18 points, grabbing seven rebounds. Bouknight was only 5 to 15 off the floor, but made three of the Huskies’ seven three-pointers.

The attack in the first half for USC was uneven without starting point guard Ethan Anderson directing the traffic (behind). USC shot well enough (44% on 25 tries) and limited sales to four. But there was no flow, and USC only managed to give two assists on 11 made baskets.

This kept Mobley out of action for much of the first half. The 7-foot freshman center made two quick baskets, one a soft hook and the other through a mistake for a three-point game. But he did not attempt a field goal in the last 17 minutes before half-time.

USC ended the game with four assists, three of which from Mobley and one from security guard Tahj Eaddy, starting in place of Anderson.

“In a difficult game, Ethan is one of our strongest players,” said Enfield. “I thought we were a bit worn out and you saw that late in the game when Tahj missed a pair of wide open threes. … Ethan, just to have another ball handler, his depth, his toughness, we really missed him tonight. ”

Defense kept USC in play, but it also led to some problems. Too lax in on-ball situations, the Trojans allowed UConn (3-0) to step back in some undisputed 3-pointers, making 6 from 12 from distance to take a five-point lead at half-time , thanks in part to solid play. from the bench by Max Agbonkpolo and Baumann, who together gained 13 points.

Tyrese Martin added 11 points and seven rebounds for UConn, and Isaiah Whaley had 10 points, five rebounds and five blocked shots. UConn defeated the Trojans 42-31, with Josh Carlton taking a game-high 11.

The Huskies played in their home state but in an eerily quiet arena and went on a 14-6 run to start the second half. But USC went back to a zone defense that delivered UConn attacks, allowing the Trojans to come back into play.

“I thought our zone was a little soft early on,” Enfield said. “The second half I thought our zone was excellent. We really got back into the game and let them do some tough shots. ”

Mobley also became more assertive, with some edge edging and post-up plays. It wasn’t enough to tilt the outcome of the match, but Enfield saw it as a growing experience for his young center.

“I think Evan has now played two high-level games and he understands what it takes to win at this level,” said Enfield, whose team split the trip to Connecticut with a win at BYU on Tuesday. “I think Evan and the rest of our team will understand the level of intensity and physicality you need to compete at this level.”

Menu