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USC Dominates Washington In Their Home-Court Finale

Jackson Safon |
March 1, 2015 | 9:35 a.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Julian Jacobs nearly had a triple double in Saturday night's win. (via USC Athletics)
Julian Jacobs nearly had a triple double in Saturday night's win. (via USC Athletics)

USC (11-19, 3-14) beat the University of Washington (15-13, 4-12) 70-55 in their final home game of the year. 

While the season has been disappointing, the team showed positive signs over their last few game and no player more than Julian Jacobs, who has really come along and almost finished the game with a triple double: 8 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists. 

Jacobs has really progressed since Jordan McLaughlin’s injury, as he has gotten more consistent minutes.

“He’s learning how to run a basketball team. He plays multiple positions for us,” noted Enfield. “He can play on the ball, off the ball, and he gives us great energy.” 

“A lot of his improvement has been decision-making and changing speeds. He’s made big improvements in the half-court and full-court.” 

Jacobs’ diverse skillset was on full display Saturday night. He was setting teammates up continually, as shown by his nine assists, rebounding well and displaying some serious athleticism highlighted by a strong put-back dunk early in the game.

But the Trojans more competitive play as of late is due to the improvement of freshman guard Elijah Stewart as well. 

Stewart has been averaging over 12 points per game in his last four games, after only scoring 26 total points in the 13 games previous to that. 

Jacobs attributes Stewart’s improvement to a lot of hard work. “He gets in the gym a lot, I’ve noticed that, other players will tell you that. He’s been working on his game, been more coachable.” 

Stewart really set the tone for the Trojans against the Huskies, coming out aggressive on both sides of the ball. While Nikola Jovanovic was forced to leave the game early with two quick fouls, Stewart shouldered most of the scoring load early on before picking up a few fouls of his own. 

Neither team shot well in the first half, however, as the Huskies only shot 27.6 percent from the field, while the Trojans weren’t much better at 31.4 percent. 

But led by Jovanovic and Stewart, the Trojans scored 43 points in the second half to the much-improved tune of 58.6 percent shooting from the field. 

Jovanovic attributed his improved play in the second half to simply being able to get in a better rhythm.

“I was aggressive from the start, but I got the two quick fouls…and I was on the bench,” he said. “But I continued to play hard in the second half and I contributed to the team.” 

READ MORE: USC Dealt With Two Huge Losses 

Unlike much of this season, the Trojans came out aggressive in the second half. But thanks to good shooting from behind the arc by Huskies Andrew Andrews and Quevyn Winters, they were not able to pull away.

Mike Anderson didn’t shoot well for the Huskies, but his seven offensive rebounds, including five in the second half, kept Washington within striking distance for most of the second half. 

Eventually, the Trojan defense was too much for the Huskies and led to consistent fast break opportunities for USC. The Trojans finished the game with 19 fast break points, and at certain times during the game, it looked like Andy Enfield’s “Dunk City” team back in his Florida Gulf Coast days. 

Afterward, Coach Enfield emphasized that defense comes first and that’s what has allowed far more opportunities in transition. 

“Well you have to defend. We held them to 29 percent from the field, we had 8 steals, and 4 blocked shots,” he said. “It’s hard to be a transition team if you can’t get the stops on the other end.”

Winning by such a margin in their last home game of the season really provides a momentum boost for the Trojans going into their final game at UCLA on Wednesday, as well as the Pac-12 Tournament after that. 

Although the wins have not been there, both Coach Enfield and Julian Jacobs are encouraged by their recent play, and believe they can carry it through the end of this season as well as into next year. 

“Our goal all year is to keep getting better, improving. We’ve done that, so that’s going to be our goal for the next two weeks…the crowd was good and hopefully they saw some things tonight that they’ll anticipate seeing next year,” said Enfield. 

“We expect to be a better team next year.” 

When asked to reflect back on the season after the last home game Jacobs said the team, “wanted to give them [the crowd] something to look forward to for next year.” 

“We anticipate coming back next year and being that much better.”

While it’s unlikely the Trojans make a Pac-12 Tournament run, there is optimism among the coaches and players, as everyone will be returning next year, while also adding two 6’10” forwards to the mix. 

It has been a down year in terms of wins and losses, but the belief around the team is that this win shows that they have a chance to be very competitive in the conference next year. 

Reach Staff Reporter Jackson Safon here.



 

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