USC wins in early tournament

Junior forward Isaiah Mobley points upward during a game.
Junior forward Isaiah Mobley posted a season-high 18 points against San Diego State in the Paycom Wooden Legacy tournament final Friday. (Simon Park | Daily Trojan)

Before the Paycom Wooden Legacy tournament’s championship game tip off, chants for San Diego State blared throughout the Anaheim Convention Center. 

Although USC handled its first opponent in the tournament, St. Josephs, the night before, a rowdy crowd and a trophy on the line provided a different challenge for the Trojans. USC outlasted the Aztecs in a hard-fought battle, winning 58-43 Friday night in Anaheim. 

“It was a great win for us against a very good basketball team,” said Head Coach Andy Enfield in a postgame press conference. “San Diego State has an outstanding program. To beat an outstanding team from an outstanding program is a big win for us. I thought our defense was great and we played very hard. We packed our toughness on a bus down here to Anaheim, we didn’t pack our free throw shooting, but we’ll take a big win here.”

On the first play of the game, senior forward Drew Peterson committed an offensive foul to turn the ball over. The stadium exploded in taunts and sneers, but it would be silent by the end of the night. 

From there, a mix of physical play from San Diego State and sloppy mistakes from USC led to the Aztecs jumping out to a 13-7 lead with around 10 minutes  left in the first half. Both teams shot poorly in the first half, combining for 37 points.

After an Enfield timeout, USC took its first lead of the game at 14-13 with 8 minutes 17 seconds left in the first half. 

“We knew we could defend them,” Enfield said. “But we knew it would probably be a low scoring game. If we had made some free throws and a couple of open shots, it might have been a little different, but give them credit because we had to earn everything we got tonight.” 

The rest of the first half was a battle, with both teams getting into the bonus — USC shot 33% from the field and SDSU shot 23%. The tournament’s most valuable player, junior forward Isaiah Mobley, seemed to be the only Trojan hitting shots, scoring 10 of the team’s 22 points at halftime. The Trojans were up 22-15 at the half. 

Mobley finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks. 

“I just play based off of the flow of the game,” said Mobley in an interview with the Daily Trojan. “Tonight, I feel like they had a couple of smaller defenders on me so I knew I could get it down low. My teammates also believed in me, and coach as well, just to put me in those positions to score.” 

After halftime, it was all USC and Peterson. The senior forward came out hot, controlling the offense and helping the Trojans start the half on an 8-0 run, scoring 6 of those and assisting on the other 2. 

He finished with 16 points and waved to the crowd after hitting a late three. 

“I hadn’t been shooting too well these past few games, then I got a little confidence, which was huge,” Peterson said. “Then, I knocked down my first three pointer of the season, which I had been waiting for. My teammates trust me, and I’m so thankful for that. We have such an unselfish team and it really shows against such a good defensive team.” 

Although USC’s leading scorer, junior guard Boogie Ellis, had an off night — scoring only 2 points on 1-6 shooting — Mobley, redshirt senior forward Chevez Goodwin and Peterson picked up the slack and all scored in double figures. Junior guard Ethan Anderson added 8 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists.

Mobley picked up his first double-double of the season on his way to winning tournament MVP. 

“I’m grateful to get my first double-double of the season,” Mobley said. “Hopefully, I keep that as a trend, but I’m not pressed, I just hope I keep helping our team win.”

The Trojans will play Utah at Galen Center Dec. 1 for the beginning of Pac-12 play.