The USC Trojans walked into Las Vegas and took care of the Kansas State Wildcats, who made the Elite Eight last season and defeated the Michigan State Spartans (the team that knocked out USC) in the NCAA Tournament.
It worked wonders.
USC got the victory, 82-69, in an impressive effort by Andy Enfield’s team. There is a lot to like, including the impressive trio of Johnson, Boogie Ellis, and Isaiah Collier. Here are five takeaways from the opening night victory:
The Kobe Johnson-Boogie Ellis-Isaiah Collier trio dominated on Monday night. The three combined for 58 points with 19 rebounds and 12 assists in a stellar effort. This backcourt was as advertised. USC established it will be very tough to handle all season long.
REBOUNDING IS A CONCERN
The rebounding will get better (hopefully) when Iwuchukwu returns. Still, the Trojans got smacked on the glass. Boogie Ellis being tied for the lead with eight boards isn’t a good sign. Backup big man Kijani Wright has to give this team more production on the boards. D.J. Rodman needs to make more of an impact here as the season goes along.
This is a common theme for USC. The Trojans shot just 5-of-20 from beyond the arc, good for 25%. This is where Bronny James, if he is able to return to the floor, could really help the Trojans.
DEFENSE LOCKED IN
The Trojans’ defense frustrated Kansas State all night long. The Wildcats shot just 31% from the field and 24% from downtown. Tylor Perry and Cam Carter combined to shoot just 9-of-33 for KSU.
This might as well be a lock for every single takeaways article we publish this season. Isaiah Collier did everything you wanted, and more. He looked like the No. 1 recruit in the country, similar to JuJu Watkins looking like the No. 1 recruit in America in women’s college basketball in USC’s win over Ohio State earlier on Monday.
Collier and Watkins give USC basketball legitimate freshmen superstars. They were the best players on the floor in their respective games.
They also both got into foul trouble on Monday. It is so important for both players to stay out of foul trouble throughout the season.