Perfect start comes to an end for men’s hoops

Senior guard Jonah Mathews struggled against Temple, shooting a season-low 20% from the field and just 1-6 on 3-pointers. (Sarah Ko / Daily Trojan)

The USC men’s basketball team suffered its first loss of the season Friday against Temple at Galen Center. The Trojans were plagued by poor shooting all night, and what began as a close battle eventually turned into a comfortable 70-61 victory for the Owls. 

“[There] weren’t a lot of positives from this game, unfortunately,” head coach Andy Enfield said after the game. “It was a game that we need to study … and learn from it and figure out some things.” 

The Trojans let the game slip away early in the second half after opening the frame on an 8-0 run that put them up 40-34. That lead was soon squandered as the Trojans followed with a six-minute scoreless drought. 

“You can’t go that long without scoring against a quality team,” Enfield said. “I thought we were going to make a run and get up double digits. We had the momentum. [Then] all of the sudden, the momentum shifted and we just couldn’t get out of it. 

“We missed open threes, we missed a layup on a slip, we missed free throws, we turned the ball over at a couple of crucial times and then all of the sudden there [Temple had] a big run.”

Over the course of approximately nine minutes, the Owls put the game out of reach with a 23-6 run. 

“I’ll take the blame for [the second half slump], because I couldn’t figure out what to do as far as getting us out of that rut,” Enfield said. “We tried different things and whatever we tried didn’t seem to work, so that’s on me. I’ve got to figure out what lineups to have out here in crucial situations and also whose hand to put the ball in.”

Freshman forward Onyeka Okongwu led USC with 17 points, shooting 6-of-13 and 46.2% from the field. Okongwu also added five monstrous blocks to his stat sheet. 

Freshman guard Ethan Anderson was second on the team in scoring with 12 points. Anderson also recorded six rebounds and five assists.

Senior guard Jonah Mathews attributed the team’s loss to an uncharacteristically poor night of shooting. USC shot 38.6% from the field on the night, 27.3% from three and an abysmal 55% from the charity stripe. 

“We were getting the shots we wanted. We just didn’t hit them,” Mathews said. “And that just comes game by game … we’ve got a lot more games to play and chemistry to build.”

Redshirt senior guard Daniel Utomi added that the team’s performance Friday night was not going to deter the players from shooting. 

“[The shots are] gonna drop,” Utomi said. “Shooters gonna shoot. We [are] not worried about it. They are going to drop.” 

Mathews also expressed confidence in his team. 

“We didn’t get it rolling tonight,” Mathews said. “Once we get it rolling, we’ll be hard to stop.” 

USC will fly to Orlando this week to play in the ESPN Orlando Invitational. Its first game is against Fairfield University Thursday at 1 p.m. 

“[Enfield told me] just to move on,” Mathews said. “We have a whole tournament next week. This is a bad loss at home, but we’ve got to move on and play some better teams in Orlando [and] try to make something happen out there because that is a big tournament.”