247 News Around The World
247 News Around The World

As Evan Mobley and his USC teammates walked off the Galen Center court on Wednesday night, the Trojans’ highly-touted freshman didn’t smile.

In his scintillating collegiate debut, the loudest noise the 7-foot forward heard in an arena empty due to COVID-19 concerns was the bench of visiting Cal Baptist.

The No. 2 ranked player in the 2020 recruiting class scored 21 points and finished one rebound shy of a double-double in a 95-87 overtime victory over the Lancers, but the team transitioning from Division II showed plenty of cracks in what could be an NCAA Tournament team.

Cal Baptist – which joined Division I prior to the 2018-19 season but won’t be eligible for the NCAA Tournament for two more years – has 11 new players (seven foreign-born) and returns just three with experience. The Lancers played a high-energy, focused game, shooting 48.8% from beyond the 3-point arc (20 for 41) to stagger a USC team accustomed to doing that to its own opponents.

Faced with red-hot Lancers guard Ty Rowell (a career-high 32 points on 11-of-21 shooting), and without 88.5% of its 3-point scoring from last season, it was USC’s length – particularly an energized Mobley protecting the rim – that proved the difference.

Both teams struggled to find an early rhythm with coronavirus protocols precluding preseason scrimmages, but Mobley – who is expected to be a one-and-done player – was as good as advertised from the opening tip. Mobley scored at all three levels, dominated the glass on both ends and flashed superior basketball IQ, passing up a first-half, mid-post shot off the dive to feed his older brother Isaiah Mobley for a dunk – one of 10 assists USC had on 16 first-half field goals. Evan Mobley scored seven of USC’s first 14 points en route to his 21-point, nine-rebound night.

The Lancers, though, locked in on the younger Mobley on defense, and the Trojans couldn’t make them pay from beyond the arc, going  5 for 19 from the arc during regulation.

Cal Baptist, though, was able to create open 3-point looks in transition, knocking down 10 before halftime – led by five from Rowell – to erase a nine-point USC lead and go into the locker room tied at 39.

A thunderous dunk from Evan Mobley capped a 9-2 USC run to open the second half, as Evan and Isaiah combined to pull down six rebounds (four on the offensive end) in the first four minutes.

The Lancers, though, kept firing from long distance, spacing the floor for the quick-trigger guard Mark Carbone (15 points, 5 for 6 from 3-point range) and Rowell, who gave CBU its first lead in 29 minutes with a 3-pointer at the 5-minute mark. A costly Lancers shot clock violation, though, set up USC’s Tahj Eaddy for a 3-pointer that tied the score at 79-all with 45.9 seconds left, sending the game into overtime.

During the extra period, the Mobley brothers combined for three rebounds and two blocked shots, as Evan went 3 for 3 from the field. Rice transfer Drew Peterson scored four points and pulled down three rebounds in overtime, finishing with 12 and nine and closing the game with a one-handed dunk off a fast-break.

Eaddy, a graduate transfer from Santa Clara, had 18 points for the Trojans, who had all five starters in double figures. Isaiah Mobley finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Rowell, who missed most of last season due to injury, finished with a career-high nine 3-point baskets. CBU starters Gorjok Gak (13 points, eight rebounds) and Reed Nottage (nine points) each fouled out. The Lancers’ 20 3-pointers is a program record.

DIFFERENT ATMOSPHERE

Coaches sometimes pulled their masks down to shout instructions to players on the court and to those on the benches located on the baselines adjacent to where the coaching staffs were seated.

Without cheering fans, players were easily heard yelling to each other when blaring music wasn’t echoing throughout the arena.

More to come on this story.

News services contributed to this story.

This post first appeared on ocregister.com

The post Evan Mobley has strong debut as USC tops Cal Baptist in OT appeared first on 247 News Around The World.

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