March 21, 2021
Trojans’ 23 wins tied for 8th-most in school history
The No. 6 seed USC Trojans (23-7, 15-5) will face the No. 3 seed Kansas Jayhawks (21-8, 12-6) in an NCAA Tournament second-round game at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind. on March 22 at 6:40 p.m. PT. The game will air on CBS with Ian Eagle and Grant Hill calling the action, and Jamie Erdahl providing courtside reports. It will also be on Westwood One Radio with Jason Benetti and Robbie Hummel calling the action. USC has won 20 or more games for the fifth time in its last six seasons under Andy Enfield. USC’s 23-7 record is its best after 30 games since being 24-6 during the 1992 season. The 23 wins are tied for the eighth most in school history.
USC IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT – USC is 15-19* all-time in NCAA Tournament action (*1 loss in 2008 vacated due to NCAA penalty, original record 14-20). USC was last in the tournament in 2017 when the Trojans went 2-1, defeating Providence 75-71 in a First Four game and SMU 66-65 in a first-round game, before falling 84-78 to Baylor in the second-round. USC is 3-2 in the NCAA Tournament under head coach Andy Enfield. The only player on USC’s roster who previously had played in the NCAA Tournament was forward Chevez Goodwin who played for Wofford in 2019 which defeated Seton Hall before losing to Kentucky. USC’s No. 6 seed is its highest since also being a No. 6 seed in 2008. USC is now 6-5 against this year’s NCAA field.
BREAKING DOWN No. 12 KANSAS — The No. 12 Kansas Jayhawks (21-8, 12-6) won its first-round game 93-84 over Eastern Washington on March 20. Kansas has won 9 of its last 10 games with its lone loss coming in overtime. Kansas has five players averaging 9.9 points or more, led by Ochai Agbaji who scores 14.4 points per game. Kansas leads the all-time series with USC 11-5, having won the last seven meetings, the most recent a 63-47 victory on Dec. 22, 2011. USC’s last victory in the series was a 89-83 overtime win on Dec. 21, 1978. Ten of the 16 games between the two schools have been decided by 10 points or less.The teams have met once in the NCAA Tournament, with Kansas beating USC 43-32 in 1940. The two schools were originally set to begin a home and home series this season with USC traveling to Kansas for a Dec. 19 game, but that was before the schedules were re-worked due to COVID-19 considerations.
DEFENSE STIFLES DRAKE IN 2ND HALF — Evan Mobley had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and No. 6 seed USC used smothering defense to earn a 72-56 victory over No. 11 seed Drake in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on March 20. Evan Mobley made of 7 of 15 field goals and Isaiah Mobley added 15 points to lead USC. Drew Peterson added 14 points and 2 assists and USC improved to 20-0 this season when at least three Trojans score 10 or more points. Joseph Yesufu scored 26 points, 18 in the first half to keep Drake in the game at 40-37 at halftime. USC tightened up the defense on Yesufu, holding him to 2-for-10 shooting in the second half, and holding the Bulldogs to an 18.9 shooting percentage after the break. For the game, USC held Drake to 29.4 percent shooting, while making 50 percent of its own shots.
Yesufu hit his 6th 3-pointer to cut USC’s lead to 57-50 with 6:35 remaining,which led to a USC timeout. Peterson came out of the timeout with a 3-pointer for USC, then Tahj Eaddy made a three to push the advantage out to 13. Eaddy finished with 9 points and a season-best 10 assists. USC won for the first time this season when being outrebounded (39-35), improving to 1-5. The 16-point victory was USC’s largest in the NCAA Tournament since defeating Boston College 72-55 in the first round of the 2009 Tournament.
MOBLEY’S HISTORIC HAUL OF PAC-12 AWARDS — Evan Mobley was named the 2020-21 Pac-12 Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year on March 9. He became the first Pac-12 player to win all three awards in a single season and joined Anthony Davis of Kentucky (2011-12) as the only other major conference player to accomplish the feat. Mobley joins Shareef Abdur-Rahim (California, 1996), Kevin Love (UCLA, 2008) and Deandre Ayton (Arizona, 2018) to win the Pac-12 Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year Awards in the same season. The only player to double as Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year was Gary Payton (Oregon State, 1987). Mobley became USC’s fourth conference Player of the Year (Wayne Carlander – 1985, Harold Miner – 1992 and Sam Clancy – 2002). Mobley also becomes USC’s second Conference Freshman of the Year, joining Miner who won the award in 1990. Mobley is the third USC player to be selected as the top defensive player in the Pac-12, joining Marcus Simmons (2011) and Taj Gibson (2009).
THE UNICORN — USC freshman Evan Mobley, who is averaging 16.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 3.0 blocks, is the only Division I player to be averaging at least 16.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 2.0 assists.
ENFIELD NAMED PAC-12 COACH OF THE YEAR — USC head coach Andy Enfield was named the 2021 John R. Wooden Pac-12 Coach of the Year recipient as he has guided the Trojans to a 22-7 record and second place in the Pac-12 with a 15-5 record, percentage points behind Oregon (14-4). USC’s 22 victories are tied for the most by a Pac-12 teams and only 11 Division I teams have won more games this season through games on March 13. Enfield has guided the Trojans to a 154-109 record in his eight seasons as USC’s head coach, the fourth most wins in school history. The Trojans currently ranked No. 24 in the AP poll. Enfield is now five wins away from picking up his 200th career victory, as he is 195-137 in 10 years as a college head coach. Enfield is the first USC head coach to be named the conference’s Coach of the Year since George Raveling in 1992. The other Conference Coach of the Year winners were Stan Morrison in 1985 and Bob Boyd in 1979.
DOING IT WITH DEFENSE — USC has held its opponents to 39.0 percent shooting this season, best in the Pac-12 and 8th-best in the country. Stanford’s 51.9 percent shooting against USC on Feb. 2 and UCLA’s 51.0 percent on March 6 were the only two times this season a Trojan opponent shot over 50 percent.
LOOKING FOR A BLOCK PARTY — USC has had 160 blocks in its first 30 games for an average of 5.3 blocks per game, second in the country in terms of total blocks. Freshman Evan Mobley is averaging 3.0 blocks per game, 6th in the country and first among freshmen. Mobley already set the USC freshman record for blocks in a season (90) and ranks 2nd on the school’s all-time top 10 list for a single season (Gibson – 100).
HOW DOES MOBLEY RANK ON USC’s ALL-TIME FRESHMAN TOTALS LISTS? — Freshman Evan Mobley has already set the USC freshman blocks record with 90, but also ranks among the school’s all-time freshman top 10 in points (3rd – 503 – just passing DeRozan), free throws made (2nd – 123), free throws attempted (1st – 178), rebounds (2nd – 260) and field goals (5th – 184).
THE WINNING WAYS — Since the beginning of the 2016 season USC has picked up 132 victories which are tied for the 16-most by any team in the six Power basketball conferences in that period (ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12 & SEC). The last two seasons, USC’s 45 total wins are tied for the third most among all six basketball power conference teams.
COURTESY USC ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS