February 23, 2024

Slow starts to each half proved disastrous for USC as the Trojans let a chance to add a resume-building win.

No. 11 Gonzaga led wire-to-wire during a 89-76 win over USC on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena as part of the Legends of Basketball Las Vegas Invitational. The Trojans are 1-1 in nonconference games played in in Las Vegas this season.

Prior to tipoff, USC was favored by 3.5 points, according to ESPN.com, with a 56.2% chance to pull away with the victory. The loss drops the Trojans to 5-3 as they prepare to return home to play Long Beach State in eight days.

Through the first five minutes of each half, Gonzaga outscored USC 27-10. During the remainder of the 20-minute periods, both teams played to a near stalemate, with the Trojans finishing four points better.

While both teams forced their opponent into 10-plus turnovers, what each club did with those extra opportunities made the difference. By the final buzzer, the Trojans had actually forced the Bulldogs into three more turnovers. However, Gonzaga turned its 10 forced turnovers into 15 points off turnover and overall finished with 21 fast-break points. USC finished with 10 points off turnovers and eight fast-break points.

USC freshman guard Isaiah Collier‘s scoring was limited, with Gonzaga coach Mark Few instructing his players to double-team Collier on every post-up attempt inside the arc.

As a result, Collier was most effective using his passing to free others for open looks. He had five assists in the first half before cooling off and adding just one in the second.

Collier finished with 14 points on six-of-14 shooting from the field, six assists, four rebounds and a steal. He also connected on just two of his six free-throw attempts. As a team, USC shot eight for 17 from the free-throw line, good for 47%.

Senior guard Boogie Ellis led all scorers with 28 points on 12-of-21 shooting to go along with seven rebounds, four assists and two steals. His rebound and steal output led the Trojans.

Bronny James update

USC once again played without freshman guard Bronny James, who was cleared to resume practice after suffering a cardiac arrest episode in late July.

James is expected to return to practice next week before making his collegiate debut at a later date.

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