USC Basketball vs. UCSB score, summary: Metu, McLaughlin down the Gauchos

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images /

Chimezie Metu and Jordan McLaughlin powered USC Basketball to a 98-87 victory over UCSB at the Galen Center on Sunday night.

The lowdown:

The Trojans and Gauchos opened the game trading baskets, including a dunk off the inbounds for Chimezie Metu and a corner three from Jonah Mathews, as USC led 9-7 after five minutes.

Freshman guard Jordan Usher’s triple from the same spot, launching a 6-0 run, helped the Trojans build a 17-10 lead.

USC found their stroke from distance midway through the half. Elijah Stewart, Mathews and Metu each knocked one down from beyond the arc to jump ahead 32-19.

However, UCSB would not be downed easily. After Metu missed both ends of a trip to the free throw line, Marcus Jackson hit a three to pull the Gauchos back within seven points at 36-29.

The Trojans suffered a blow as Metu went down with an injury to his face and had to leave the court clutching a towel to his brow.

When UCSB’s Max Heidegger gave the Gauchos back a foothold in the game from the free throw line, Stewart and Mathews hit back-to-back triples extending it to 44-30 as the first half neared a close.

Though Gabe Vincent hit back for UCSB, USC finished the half stronger, scoring the last eight points of the period. Rakocevic hooked in a buzzer-beater to give the Trojans a 52-33 advantage at halftime.

UCSB cut into USC’s lead early in the second, but Mathews knocked down a triple before Metu hit two in a row from distance. Thanks to a Metu dunk and another triple for Jordan McLaughlin, the Trojans lead was 68-48 with 15 minutes to play.

Usher’s pull-up jumper gave USC a 25-point advantage with just over 12 minutes left, but the Gauchos launched a counter. After eight unanswered points, including back-to-back three pointers from Gabe Vincent, UCSB trimmed the Trojans’ lead to just 15.

Metu’s dunk out of a timeout stemmed the bleeding, but the Gauchos went on to score the next five points before Mathews hit a long jumper. USC led 79-65 at the eight minute mark.

UCSB worked the deficit down to just 10, but Metu came alive, putting in a routine layup before loading up his highlight reel on consecutive possessions. First he dunked an alley-oop from McLaughlin, then his monster, one-handed slam shook the backboard, sent the Galen Center crowd into a frenzy and put USC ahead a more comfortable 85-69.

With Metu guiding the Trojans back into a sizable lead, USC won 98-87 despite an inconsequential nine-point run for the Gauchos to end the game.

By the numbers:

  • McLaughlin finished with 19 assists, breaking the USC single-game record and tying the Pac-12 record.
  • Metu posted 31 points, including three three-pointers, to lead all scorers. He added five rebounds.
  • Steward contributed 19 points and Mathews add 16 as five Trojans finished in double-figures.
  • Rakocevic led all players with 12 rebounds. He had a double-double with 12 points as well
  • The Trojans shot 56.7 percent from the field and 50 percent from three-point distance.
  • USC’s largest lead was 25. UCSB’s was one.
  • USC out-rebounded UCSB 27-9 in the first half. In fact, the Trojans had more offensive rebounds than the Gauchos had total rebounds.

Players of the game: Jordan McLaughlin and Chimezie Metu. Without Bennie Boatwright, due to injury, USC needed it’s stars to step up and they did.

Next on tap: The Trojans welcome Princeton to the Galen Center on Dec. 19 at 8:00 p.m.