USC’s go-ahead possession late in the second half against Texas A&M could not have summarized the tide of events throughout the whole game any better: The Trojans fell short at times, but stuck with plays en route to a 65-63 victory over the Aggies on the road Friday night. With USC (3-0) trailing by a point with under 20 seconds remaining in regulation, sophomore forward Bennie Boatwright had his three-point attempt deflected — the ball then fell into the reach of sophomore forward Chimezie Metu, who batted the ball back out to the three point line. Junior guard Jordan McLaughlin was the recipient of the volleyball-esque pass, and he proceeded to lob an alley-oop to a newly-open Metu who slammed the ball into the net to give USC a 64-63 lead, which it would not relinquish. “We played a very good basketball team. It’s very difficult to win here at this arena,” head coach Andy Enfield said. “Lots of credit to [Texas A&M coach Billy] Kennedy, and to the players of this university. We were fortunate to come away with a victory here tonight.”Entering the final minute of regulation, USC trailed the Aggies (2-1), 63-60. Two free throws from Boatwright — who was making his season-debut Friday night coming off of an injury — with 56 seconds remaining pulled the Trojans within one. The McLaughlin-to-Metu alley-oop put USC ahead by one with 15 seconds remaining. Freshman guard De’Anthony Melton proceeded to steal a Texas A&M pass — he was then fouled and made a free throw that put USC ahead by the final score, 65-63. Texas A&M forward DJ Hogg missed a three-point attempt at the final buzzer, clinching the USC victory.With the victory Friday night, USC snapped Texas A&M’s 12-game winning streak against non-conference, high-major opponents on their home court. USC became the first high-major, non-league team to defeat the Aggies in their own arena since Miami did so back in 2001.The Trojans’ victory was sparked by big scoring runs to conclude both the first and second halves. USC finished the first half on a 18-7 run over the final six-and-a-half minutes; the Trojans finished the game on an 11-3 run to clinch the win. Junior guard Elijah Stewart recorded his first double-double of the young season against A&M, scoring 11 points and reeling in a team-high 11 rebounds. Metu’s go-ahead dunk in the second half was a part of his team-high 14 point performance Friday; he also recorded nine rebounds. The Trojans were able to prevent a big offensive performance from Texas A&M sophomore center Tyler Davis, who was averaging a team-high 16.5 PPG entering Friday night’s contest. Davis found himself in foul-trouble early on, and finished the game with eight points — he played 24 minutes in total. Overall, USC outrebounded Texas A&M Friday night, 47-44.The Trojans now return to the Galen Center Tuesday for a matchup with the visiting New Orleans Privateers — this contest will be the beginning of a five-game home stretch for USC.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY AT USC? Josh Dunst/Daily Trojan Beating UCLA at home was just magical, especially doing it on senior night for some of those guys [who are] some of my best friends today. I’m not really sure about that yet. I have a couple options — I could pursue volleyball overseas. But I’m also ready to get a job, start a life, and move on. WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU? It was tough in the beginning. Of course, there’s a language barrier, understanding what your coaches want, how you’re going to make new friends. The culture’s totally different. The environment is different. It was always a challenge to adapt. It took me a while to understand more about the people. WHAT’S ONE THING ABOUT VOLLEYBALL THAT MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW? Just keep your head high. Sometimes it’s going to be a roller coaster ride. There’s going to be ups and downs. You’ve just got to keep your head up, just keep working hard. If you work hard, it’s going to pay off in the end. WHAT ABOUT TRANSFERRING FROM COMMUNITY COLLEGE? WAS THAT A CHALLENGE? DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS FROM THE PAST FOUR YEARS? I made a lot of friends playing volleyball. It definitely helped that all my teammates knew English, helped me develop my language as well on the court. My favorite memory so far was my junior year. We had a game against UCLA — it was senior night last year. There was a lot of people, a lot of pressure and we came up with a win that night. I’m going to remember that game forever. No regrets at all. When you don’t win a championship, you’re always like, “I wish I would’ve done that.” We’re working hard this year to reach that goal. In the U.S., it’s not really a popular sport. One of our coaches, Greg Walker, talks about entertaining people: ‘What are you going to do for people to come watch you?’ It has to be exciting. Sometimes, I feel like some people lack excitement [for the sport]. It’s something that we always work on, to put on a show for everyone to come to watch. WAS IT DIFFICULT TO ADJUST TO LIFE IN AMERICA? Coming from Orange Coast College in Orange County, of course the level of volleyball was way higher playing Division I here at USC. It’s tough to adjust to the speed of the game. After a lot of hard work and dedication, you adapt to it easily. DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR FRESHMEN ATHLETES? Volleyball is played all around the world, but the way they play it in the U.S. is totally different from the way they play it in Brazil. [In Brazil], it’s a way more emotional game. You play with your heart. You play for the fans. In the U.S., it’s more of a statistical game. In my opinion, that’s why people don’t really watch it here — the excitement that some of the players don’t have. read more