USC held a five-point lead with 1:20 left in the second half when Nick Rakocevic received a pass in the paint and quickly threw an alley-oop to freshman Onyeka Okongwu who threw it down with two hands.
Okongwu finished with a career night, scoring 33 points to lead USC to a 91-84 win over Pepperdine Tuesday at the Galen Center.
“Onyeka does what he does well,” USC head coach Andy Enfield said. “And when he is fouled, he makes his free throws. He played a smart game. All three of our bigs played well. If we can get that productivity out of our three bigs, that’d be pretty good.”
The Trojans improved to 5-0 for the first time since 2016. Rakocevic had 16 points and 11 rebounds while Jonah Mathews added 16 points as well. Four players finished in double figures for USC.
“That was a good win against a very good team,” Enfield said. “Both teams offensively made a lot of tough shots. Ross was spectacular. He had some shot making you don’t see often. Every time we tried to extend the lead, he’d hit a shot. Our guys played well and we’re 5-0. Pepperdine is much improved. Lorenzo has done a good job and they have a lot of offensive talent.”
USC got off to a slow start, trailing by double digits twice in the first half. Pepperdine took a 21-11 lead after a layup by Skylar Chavez. USC made nine of its final 13 shots in the first half to take 44-37 halftime lead.
Colby Ross hit a three-pointer to open the second half for Pepperdine but USC went on a 9-0 run before Elijah Weaver nailed a three-pointer to give USC a 56-46 lead. Ross finished with a career-high 38 points.
“We tried different things on Ross,” Enfield said. “He had it rolling. Some of the shots he made were really hard. Sometimes you’ve got to give others credit.”
Freshman Isaiah Mobley hit a pair of free throws to give USC a 73-61 lead with 9:27 left in the second half. After an 8-0 run by the Waves, Mathews hit back-to-back three-pointers to get the lead back up to nine points.Mobley scored 14 points off the bench.
“The coaches kept telling me to be aggressive,” Mobley said. “I was trying to find where I can be consistent and persistent. I found a spot in the second half to get going.”
USC’s next game will be against Temple (3-0) on Friday, Nov. 22 at the Galen Center.