No. 10 USC routs Lehigh in tuneup for No. 16 Texas A&M
By Joey Kaufman
LOS ANGELES — To maintain an undefeated start to this season over the past week-plus, the USC men’s basketball team has needed to overcome a pair of slow starts.
The 10th-ranked Trojans trailed North Dakota State twice by 10 points in the first half on Nov. 13 before rallying for a 10-point victory.
They were down by 14 points to Vanderbilt on Sunday before prevailing by four in overtime.
It has not been unusual.
When USC won 26 games last season, marking a program record, it trailed by nine or more points in 15 of those victories.
Dramatics weren’t needed Wednesday night against Lehigh.
The Trojans surrendered a mid-range jump shot to Kyle Leufroy on the game’s opening possession and never trailed again, securing an 88-63 win and improving to 4-0 in advance of Sunday’s showdown against No. 16 Texas A&M.
After Leufroy’s opening basket, Bennie Boatwright followed with his own jumper. Boatwright, the 6-foot-10 junior forward, led USC with 19 points and 11 rebounds, including eight on the offensive glass. He often scored as a result. It was his first double-double of this season.
Three others joined Boatwright in double-figures, followed by Jonah Mathews (18 points), Chimezie Metu (15 points) and Elijah Stewart (13 points) in front of 3,125 at the Galen Center.
Mathews has started all four games this season in place of De’Anthony Melton, who remained sidelined amid an investigation into his eligibility. Melton was linked in the FBI’s investigation into bribery and corruption in college basketball.
Against Lehigh, Mathews shot 70 percent, including hitting four of his six attempts from 3-point range. The Trojans shot 47 percent from the field. Stewart was 3 for 6 from beyond the arc as the Trojans made a season-high-tying 12 3-pointers.
USC led by as many as 18 in the first half and was ahead 44-32 at intermission.
At one stretch early […]