USC Men's Basketball Faces LSU Staples Center on Saturday
January 2, 2020
The 9-2 USC men's basketball team will play the 8-2 Louisiana State University (LSU) Tigers on Saturday at the Staples Center at 6 p.m. Both teams come into the game with winning streaks and something to prove to the rest of the nation.
USC beat Long Beach State last Sunday 87-76 at the Galen Center on the USC campus. The Trojans were led by freshman forward Onyeka Okongwu who scored 28 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and he also had three steals in 30 minutes of play. Senior guard Jonah Mathews had 18 points and freshman Ethan Anderson dish out 12 assists.
Okongwu is the Trojan's best player. "He is a special talent and he is hard worker," said USC head coach Andy Enfield after the game on Sunday. "We knew he was an exceptional player and we knew he would help us right away. He is quick off his feet, he is making good passes and he is rebounding at a high level."
The Trojans have two more preseason games against LSU and a home game against Florida Gulf Coast on Sunday, December 29, before they start Pac-12 play on the road against the Washington schools. At press time every team in the Pac-12 has a winning record and three teams, Oregon, Arizona and Washington are ranked in the top 25 in the nation.
To compete at a high level in the Pac-12 USC will need to keep improving. They appear to have the talent but can they put it all together? Just like last year the key to the Trojans success will be the play of senior Nick Rakocevic. The 6-11 player from Chicago need will to find consistency in his game if the Trojans expect to make the NCAA tournament. With his talent he should be averaging a double-double every game.
Overall the Trojans have looked like a solid team during the preseason. "The last three games we have been very good offensively," said Enfield. "We led the league in assists the last two years and that's who we are."
Enfield likes his team this year. "We really love the team personality wise and we like the camaraderie. We enjoy this team. They are fun to be around and they are very nice people off the court. Every game I get mad at a few different players but I usually forget about that 10 seconds later. We have our weaknesses like every other team but overall we really enjoy these players."
One of the players he is really enjoying is Okongwu. Okongwu credits playing with the famous Ball brothers at Chino Hills high school with helping him deal with playing in front of big crowds. "Playing at Chino Hills I got use to the pressure and intensity of playing in big games. When I was in high school every game was a big game so playing at USC I am used to big crowds and so I am not rattled."