USC basketball put away Drake to advance in the NCAA Tournament. With Evan Mobley looking strong and Kansas vulnerable, that dark horse title looks accurate.
For the second time in the Andy Enfield era, USC basketball is heading for the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament. Next step? Upset Kansas.
The Trojans took care of business in their opening-round matchup with No. 11-seed Drake. Though the Bulldogs were hot off their First Four win over Wichita State and Joseph Yusefu was as good as advertised, USC's star power and depth won the day.
Evan Mobley led USC with 17 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks, and two assists in his tournament debut. It was exactly what the Trojans needed from their top talent.
USC basketball hit all the right notes in their opening-round victory
Mobley wasn't alone. Isaiah Mobley was efficient on offense, hitting 6-of-7 attempts from the field for 15 points while adding five rebounds, two assists, and a block. Drew Peterson also came up big with 14 points.
Tahj Eaddy was kept in check in terms of scoring, but that was okay because he still delivered on the offensive end. He had 10 assists on the day.
As a team, USC's defense was the difference. Drake managed to go just 7-of-37 in the second half and shot 29.4 percent overall.
There were just two concerns for the Trojans. They lost the rebounding battle 39-35, allowing the lower seed to grab 17 offensive boards. USC was also a dismal 53.3 percent from the free throw line.
Free throw issues aside (a closer game may have punished that stat which has been a thorn in USC's side all season) the performance proved exactly why so many analysts have highlighted the Trojans as a team that may go far this March.
Evan Mobley wasn't cowed on the biggest stage of his career while Isaiah Mobley, Drew Peterson, and Tahj Eaddy were a strong supporting cast. Suffocating defense provided the foundation for all.
The Trojans can now look ahead to Kansas, who they will face on Monday. Enfield's squad should be rubbing their hands together in anticipation. There is no more vulnerable-looking No. 3 seed in the bracket. The Jayhawks trailed No. 14 seed Eastern Washington by eight points at halftime before taking control in the second half. They are still dealing with COVID-19 issues with key players returning over the weekend.