Freshman forward Onyeka Okongwu flirted with a triple-double in his collegiate debut, and Southern California cruised to a 77-48 win over Florida A&M on Tuesday in Los Angeles in the season opener for both teams.
The Trojans sputtered through a poor shooting first half to take a one-point lead into halftime against their visitors from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. In the second half, the freshman duo of Okongwu and Isaiah Mobley came alive to spark USC.
Okongwu scored 20 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked eight shots, all game highs. Mobley scored 17 points to go with seven rebounds and two blocks.
The youngsters paced the Trojans to a 53-point second half after a listless first 20 minutes. USC’s outside shooting faltered badly at the start and never really improved. The Trojans shot just 17.6 percent (3-for-17) from behind the 3-point arc, which included an 0-for-5 showing from senior guard Jonah Mathews.
USC leveraged its size advantage to score effectively in the paint and challenge Florida A&M’s looks at the hoop.
The Rattlers shot just 32.3 percent from the floor and were outrebounded 49-39. USC held Florida A&M to just two points over a decisive stretch lasting almost five minutes, midway through the second half.
DJ Jones led Florida A&M with 12 points. He was one of only two Rattlers to score in double figures, with Bryce Moragne adding 11 off the bench. Kamron Reaves made the only successful Florida A&M 3-point attempt of the night. The Rattlers went 1-for-8 from deep.
Evins Desir had nine points and eight rebounds for the visitors.
Freshmen accounted for all three of USC’s double-figure scoring performances. Max Agbonkpolo added 10 points off the bench. Another member of USC’s ballyhooed 2019 signing class, guard Ethan Anderson, provided four points, two steals and a game-high seven assists.
Despite his poor 3-point shooting, Mathews finished with nine points.
—Field Level Media