USC’s go-ahead possession late in the second half against Texas A&M could not have summarized the tide of events throughout the whole game any better: The Trojans fell short at times, but stuck with plays en route to a 65-63 victory over the Aggies on the road Friday night.
With USC (3-0) trailing by a point with under 20 seconds remaining in regulation, sophomore forward Bennie Boatwright had his three-point attempt deflected — the ball then fell into the reach of sophomore forward Chimezie Metu, who batted the ball back out to the three point line. Junior guard Jordan McLaughlin was the recipient of the volleyball-esque pass, and he proceeded to lob an alley-oop to a newly-open Metu who slammed the ball into the net to give USC a 64-63 lead, which it would not relinquish.
“We played a very good basketball team. It’s very difficult to win here at this arena,” head coach Andy Enfield said. “Lots of credit to [Texas A&M coach Billy] Kennedy, and to the players of this university. We were fortunate to come away with a victory here tonight.”
Entering the final minute of regulation, USC trailed the Aggies (2-1), 63-60. Two free throws from Boatwright — who was making his season-debut Friday night coming off of an injury — with 56 seconds remaining pulled the Trojans within one. The McLaughlin-to-Metu alley-oop put USC ahead by one with 15 seconds remaining. Freshman guard De’Anthony Melton proceeded to steal a Texas A&M pass — he was then fouled and made a free throw that put USC ahead by the final score, 65-63.
Texas A&M forward DJ Hogg missed a three-point attempt at the final buzzer, clinching the USC victory.
With the victory Friday night, USC snapped Texas A&M’s 12-game winning streak against non-conference, high-major opponents on their home court. USC became the first high-major, non-league team to defeat the Aggies in their own arena since Miami did so back in 2001.
The Trojans’ victory was sparked by big scoring runs to conclude both the first and second halves. USC finished the first half on a 18-7 run over the final six-and-a-half minutes; the Trojans finished the game on an 11-3 run to clinch the win.
Junior guard Elijah Stewart recorded his first double-double of the young season against A&M, scoring 11 points and reeling in a team-high 11 rebounds.
Metu’s go-ahead dunk in the second half was a part of his team-high 14 point performance Friday; he also recorded nine rebounds.
The Trojans were able to prevent a big offensive performance from Texas A&M sophomore center Tyler Davis, who was averaging a team-high 16.5 PPG entering Friday night’s contest. Davis found himself in foul-trouble early on, and finished the game with eight points — he played 24 minutes in total.
Overall, USC outrebounded Texas A&M Friday night, 47-44.
The Trojans now return to the Galen Center Tuesday for a matchup with the visiting New Orleans Privateers — this contest will be the beginning of a five-game home stretch for USC.