Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Boogie Ellis and Isaiah Mobley lead USC at number 20, beating Utah in Pac-12 opening

This is a quick two-syllable exclamation, pronounced so quickly that it sounds like one. In the ear and out. “Boogie!”

The USC announcer calls it most often when junior guard Boogie Ellis receives a bucket.

If the start of the season on Wednesday night at Pac-12 was any indication, Trojan fans better get used to hearing it at the Galen Center this season.

Number 20 USC jumped across Utah Wednesday night, passing Ellis’ eight points in less than 1:30 game hours in the first half and escaping with a 93-73 win. The talented big guy Isaiah Mobley added a double-double when the Trojan count improved to 7-0.

With just over two minutes before halftime, USC heavily strangled Utah but failed to completely shake Utes by nine points. It’s boogie-woogie time.

Six seconds after the Cliff was idle, Ellis calmly threw out a three. On his next Trojan possession, Mobley drove and made a pass to the right corner for Ellis, who pivoted in the air for another strike from a distance that didn’t hit anything but a split.

This was followed by a break from Ellis, a Mobley bucket, Ethan Anderson and another on a fast break; suddenly the Galen Center took the lead by 20 points.

A transfer from Memphis, where he was the sixth AAC Player of the Year for 2020/21, Ellis arrived Wednesday night averaging nearly 15 points per game.

He scored 19 points more against The Cliff in a barrage of stop-and-pop jumpers and tear-off dunks, gaining even more sympathy from the crowd of Trojans who shouted mercilessly when called to the flop minutes after the start of the second half.

Last season’s superstar Evan Mobley – Isaiah’s older brother – got the third pick in the NBA Draft for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and second-best scorer Tahj Eddie now plays in the G-League.

USC forward Max Agbonkpolo (left) celebrates a dunk with Boogie defender Ellis during the second half against Utah on Wednesday.

(Alex Gallardo / Associated Press) #

But these Trojans have reclaimed much of the key depth that led to a 25-8 record and entered the elite eight last season.

The key to their unbeaten run to open the season – their best start after a streak of 14 wins in 2016-17 – is a multi-faceted defense, with opponents holding back less than 32%.

This presence was fully manifested in the first half.

The 7’3 ” wingspan and Isaiah Mobley’s verticality forced the wings of the Cliff to make awkward attempts at edge downtime.

Sophomore center Joshua Morgan – who has been called “one of the best defensive bigmen we’ve had here at USC” by coach Andy Anfield since his November 25 win over St. Joseph – scored two great goals from the Cliff drivers.

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