Evan Mobley Needs To Be Even Better To Beat 29-0 Gonzaga

Big man Evan Mobley likely will be a huge factor for USC in its bid to upset Gonzaga

Ryan Kartje (LA Times —  Evan Mobley is the most imposing player still standing in this NCAA tournament, a surefire top-three NBA draft pick with prowess in the paint and relentless rim protection, capable of bending any game to his will. But as USC drubbed Drake in the first round, crushed Kansas in the second and rolled over Oregon on its way to the Elite Eight for the first time in two decades, the Trojans haven’t needed their 7-footer in a starring role.

Of course, Mobley still dominated defensively and passed deftly out of double teams, his presence alone enough to unravel opposing game plans. On Sunday, he put an innocent Oregon freshman on a poster with a thunderous two-handed slam. But through three games, in which he has averaged a mere 12.3 points, USC hasn’t needed the freshman’s full complement of superpowers.

If there has ever been a time for the Trojans’ star to take over, though, it’s Tuesday, when USC faces off with Gonzaga, college basketball’s equivalent of the Avengers, in perhaps the most consequential game in program history.

No two tournament teams have been more dominant than USC and Gonzaga. In their quest to become the first undefeated champion since Indiana in 1976, the Bulldogs have won their first three tournament games by an average of more than 25 points. The sixth-seeded Trojans, who haven’t been to the Final Four since 1954, have nearly matched that pace, winning by an average of more than 21.

Both have relied on balance to rout the opposition. But while Gonzaga and its trio of All-Americans have ridden that approach to a perfect 29-0 record this season, winning all but one of those games by double digits, USC (25-7) has just recently found its stride. A month ago, no one would have anticipated the Trojans, who ranked among the worst three-point shooting teams in the Pac-12, knocking down almost 51% of their attempts from deep during the first three rounds.

“They’ve been coming at people from a lot of different directions,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of the Trojans. “They’ve been shooting the three-ball incredibly well. The guards have really stepped up. But all the while, you have to pay a lot of attention to both Mobley brothers [Evan and Isaiah]. That’s the dilemma you face defensively.”

That dilemma befuddled Oregon coach Dana Altman and the Ducks on Sunday, as the extra attention on Evan Mobley allowed others to excel. Isaiah White scored a season-high-tying 22 points in the Sweet 16 win, while Tahj Eaddy added 20, including the dagger three-pointer in the final minutes.

Evan Mobley, meanwhile, scored a quiet 10 points for a second consecutive game. Over that stretch, he has taken just 12 shots and dished out 11 assists.

“That just goes to show you how unselfish Evan Mobley is,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “He takes what the defense gives. He has confidence in his teammates, and that goes throughout the whole team. He leads us with that. When your most talented offensive player is your most unselfish and willing passer, you can win a lot of games like that.”

To propel USC to the Final Four, he will need to do a bit more than that. No team in college basketball, this season and perhaps in the last several before it, scores more efficiently than Gonzaga. No team in the tournament has played at a quicker tempo this season, and no offense has been more balanced, with four scorers who average in double figures and also shoot close to 50% or better from the field.

The combination of speed and efficiency is especially deadly for defenses that struggle in transition. It’s a testament to that tempo that Gonzaga boasts the highest two-point percentage in recent college basketball history, making an extraordinary 64% of its attempts inside the arc.

“They really push the pace on makes and misses,” Eaddy said of the Bulldogs. “That allows them to get in the paint early on offense, which allows them to kick it out for threes. We really have to be sharp in terms of taking good shots, taking care of the ball and making sure we get back on defense. We get them in the half court, it’ll be a good game.”

That’s the challenge facing Enfield, who was running on only a few hours of sleep Monday when he set out to craft a plan for slowing an offense no team has contained all season.

A star 7-footer certainly might come in handy in that pursuit. Mobley is a primary reason why USC boasts the top two-point defense in the country this season, making for an epic matchup inside the arc. His place in the middle of the Trojans’ zone defense is a primary reason why it has been so suffocating through the Sweet 16.

But to keep up with Gonzaga and make it to the Final Four, USC is going to need all the firepower it can muster. That starts with getting more from Evan Mobley.

“You have to be able to score the ball,” Enfield said. “You can’t have the game in the 60s and expect to win.”

latimes.com

No. 6 USC (25-7) vs. No. 1 Gonzaga (29-0)

When: Tuesday, 4:15 p.m. PT

Where: Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis)

TV/Radio: TBS/790 AM

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TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
March 30, 2021 6:33 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

As strange as it sounds, I am not certain any of the SC starters would start for the Zags. Timme is clearly better than Evan. So Evan would play forward. Beyond Evan, none of our starters would get any time at Gonzaga.

Chris
Diamond Member
Chris (@chris)
March 30, 2021 6:46 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Evan has much more potential, but he is not better right now. Timme is more skilled and physically stronger. Evan will be better as he develops.

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
March 30, 2021 6:49 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Pro ball is different than collegiate. Evan has a much higher ceiling than Timme. Right now, Timme is the better player with by far a better team.

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
March 30, 2021 7:30 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Agreed. Enfield is not in Few’s class yet. Few has Ben elite for at least a decade. Andy was clearly outmatched. Few did not get to where he was on his first go round. I remember some of his teams getting smoked. It took Andy 7 years to get where he is a good coach. Perhaps an elite coach is lurking inside him.

HOF19
Noble Member
HOF19 (@hof19)
March 30, 2021 6:18 pm

As a Colts fan some of my fellow Colts fans on the Colts fan forum board (Who also root for Indiana univ) hoping Gonzaga loses sooner or later because of this (From Wikipedia) >>>>> “Indiana is the last team to go unbeaten through the entire season, through preconference and conference seasons, and also finish unbeaten winning the NCAA Tournament.”

HOF19
Noble Member
HOF19 (@hof19)
March 30, 2021 6:23 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Hey they made March Madness more fun for me so Thanx USC players and FIGHT ON !!!!!

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
March 30, 2021 6:37 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Allen, This shows what an expanded FB field would look like. Finally four will most likely be 3 #1 seeds and a #2. And, the Zags are slaughtering their opponents much like AL would. SC stood zero chance against the Zags. Zags could have named that score.

Steveg
Mt Rushmore
Steveg (@steveg)
March 30, 2021 7:54 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Hey Allen, remember we were on the bandwagon. Ya, the wheels fell off.

Terrific Tommy
Diamond Member
Terrific Tommy (@terrific-tommy)
March 30, 2021 8:42 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Now, my main hope Allen is for Gonzaga to win the entire thing. If they do, they will have gone the entire season undefeated — and we will have been taken out without shame.

Steveg
Mt Rushmore
Steveg (@steveg)
March 30, 2021 5:39 pm

They must have told Evan to get aggressive as he seems to be in the game this half.

Steveg
Mt Rushmore
Steveg (@steveg)
March 30, 2021 5:34 pm

Gonzaga is simply a machine and nobody is going to stop it.

Steveg
Mt Rushmore
Steveg (@steveg)
March 30, 2021 5:21 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Can’t turn it over, have to play offense decisively, and the big guys have to play physical and aggressive.

Steveg
Mt Rushmore
Steveg (@steveg)
March 30, 2021 5:38 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

So very true. Looks like Andy still has some coaching and recruiting to do to get to the true blueblood status.

Trojan5
Knighted Member
Trojan5 (@trojan5)
March 30, 2021 5:31 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Gonzaga is better. Sometime it is simple as that. If they played 5 times SC might win one. Maybe. The Zags just have more talent and better Jimmy’s & Joe’s.

Chris
Diamond Member
Chris (@chris)
March 30, 2021 5:07 pm

This isn’t out of the norm for Gonzaga. They literally are so much better than everyone that they can turn it on at will. I’ve watched it all year. They will do it to anyone they play.

HOF19
Noble Member
HOF19 (@hof19)
March 30, 2021 4:55 pm

Get under 10 at halftime.

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
March 30, 2021 4:56 pm
Reply to  HOF19

Probably lucky to be under 20

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
March 30, 2021 5:09 pm
Reply to  HOF19

Did keep it under 20. This is a clear mismatch. It is not that SC is bad. Gonzaga is that good. It is one of the best collegiate teams ever assembled. As advertised, it is on a par with the great UCLA teams.

Steveg
Mt Rushmore
Steveg (@steveg)
March 30, 2021 5:22 pm
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

And I bet Gonzaga paid a whole lot less for their team and ucla did.

Terrific Tommy
Diamond Member
Terrific Tommy (@terrific-tommy)
March 30, 2021 5:10 pm
Reply to  HOF19

Painful to watch this. They are outstanding on defense.

HOF19
Noble Member
HOF19 (@hof19)
March 30, 2021 4:53 pm

Speed .

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
March 30, 2021 4:48 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Also why they have the best win margin in history. This is a great team that is out to make a statement.

John Weld
Admin
Diamond Member
John Weld (@johnnynumbers)
March 30, 2021 4:58 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

When our defense is in position, playing half court basketball and contesting shots; Gonzaga is missing their shots. Evan needs to step up and we need to hit some outside shots.

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
March 30, 2021 4:44 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Evan has not figured out how to guard him. Gonzaga is better than advertised. This looks to be another 25 point beat down. Gonzaga is out to prove they are one of the all time greats.

Chris
Diamond Member
Chris (@chris)
March 30, 2021 4:39 pm

Ok. Timme cannot be guarded by Mobley. They need to double him. That’s just not good for us. Clearly the best team we’ve played and it’s not even close.

Trojan5
Knighted Member
Trojan5 (@trojan5)
March 30, 2021 4:40 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I am no expert but Zags are exposing the SC guards. Zags are as advertised. Good reason they have been #1 all year. Hell, they have only one single digit game all year.

John Weld
Admin
Diamond Member
John Weld (@johnnynumbers)
March 30, 2021 4:40 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Evan Mobley is being destroyed by Timme and our guards have too many turnovers.

Chris
Diamond Member
Chris (@chris)
March 30, 2021 4:33 pm

Wow

HOF19
Noble Member
HOF19 (@hof19)
March 30, 2021 4:28 pm

That looks concerning …….Hope it is nothing serious !

Chris
Diamond Member
Chris (@chris)
March 30, 2021 4:31 pm
Reply to  HOF19

Glad to see him responsive.

Chris
Diamond Member
Chris (@chris)
March 30, 2021 4:20 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

we look slow, didn’t think that would happen. But an early punch isn’t uncommon. Get em organized Andy.

HOF19
Noble Member
HOF19 (@hof19)
March 30, 2021 4:09 pm

All I have to say ?????…………..FIGHT ON !!!!!

HOF19
Noble Member
HOF19 (@hof19)
March 30, 2021 2:46 pm

LOL ………….USC FOOTBALL Twitter posted a video of Clay Helton wishing our Mens Basketball team luck today ……… 95 % of SC fans responding to the video all saying “OH NO now we are jinxed “

HOF19
Noble Member
HOF19 (@hof19)
March 30, 2021 2:49 pm
Reply to  HOF19

Make me wonder …..If thay could post a poll on the internet >>>>>”Which college football fanbase has the LOWEST confidence in their current Head Coach ” Would the SC Fanbase finish first in that poll ?????

Last edited 18 days ago by HOF19
volunteerTrojan
Active Member
volunteerTrojan (@volunteertrojan)
March 30, 2021 4:35 pm
Reply to  HOF19

Thanks, Helton. You just delivered the kiss of death to the BB team.

Golden Trojan
Diamond Member
Golden Trojan (@golden-trojan)
March 30, 2021 1:55 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I llike stats anyway but I really like these. Hard know about games in November and December. The national awe of Gonzaga may be dashed tonight!  :wpds_cool: 

Chris
Diamond Member
Chris (@chris)
March 30, 2021 12:51 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

if you are a basketball fan you will enjoy watching the Zags. They play offense the way everyone should. They share the ball, play lightning fast, and rarely play iso ball. It’s good watch.

with that, I hope they gag like dogs. Fight on!!

Chris
Diamond Member
Chris (@chris)
March 30, 2021 3:36 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Honestly I will be shocked if we win. I don’t think anyone can play with Gonzaga for an entire game. They are just too deep and too skilled. But I’m rooting like crazy for us to shock the world.

Chris
Diamond Member
Chris (@chris)
March 30, 2021 4:07 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I hope so. My spokane family will be devastated. They will not watch the game with me, I’m the black sheep for the next few hours. This town is crazy about Gonzaga, it’s pretty cool. Gonzaga has transformed this city like you wouldnt believe. We have a basketball tourney called hoopfest every summer where the whole downtown is taken over. Near 7000 teams and 250,000 people on the streets to play or watch. It’s run by former Zag Matt Santangelo. It’s a really cool event.

HOF19
Noble Member
HOF19 (@hof19)
March 30, 2021 11:31 am

A saying I always here on national sports shows whenever one of their top 5 stories involves a team pulling off an upset >>>>>>> “IT’S WHY YOU PLAY THE GAMES ” ……………FIGHT ON !!!!!

Alex
Active Member
Alex (@alex)
March 30, 2021 11:07 am

I’m pumped !

LawyerJohn
Knighted Member
LawyerJohn (@lawyerjohn)
March 30, 2021 10:21 am

Gonzaga can be had despite 3 All-Americans and a fourth player who could have been selected: Overall– Had a relatively easy schedule with the likes of San Diego and LMU, but had trouble with BYU A very good 2-point shooting team, but did not play a USC-caliber defense Excellent free-throw shooters Not a particularly good rebounding team Play well together Not a tall team– Timme is 6’10” and Kispert 6’7, and the balance are 6’5″ at best Individual Players: Timme– All-American but pros have him pegged as only a 32-50 pick; clever around the basket; only average rebounder Kispert– All-American;… Read more »

usc50
Active Member
usc50 (@usc50)
March 30, 2021 5:42 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

You are right. Gonzaga has 3 all Americans. Mr Inside, a lottery PG, and a great outside shooter. Gonzaga goes 8 deep with quality players. On top of that they have a great coach. Gonzaga plays like it should be played with lots of ball and player movement.
Read somewhere that their pace is the fastest in the nation.
It is going to take the best game of the season for USC to beat Gonzaga. Mistake free with great shooting.
And of course the signature defense.