"This was just what the doctor ordered for this team in terms of timing and the kind of game we needed," head coach Tad Boyle said. "I'm proud of our guys from the end of the bench, the guys on the floor for the way they responded, and they way they tried to really execute the game plan."
After Thursday night's struggles, junior guard Askia Booker said that "It was very important (to get a win). Coach was talking about bouncing back these last couple days... Even though this team wasn't the top team in the league or even the top three, we still came out with a 21-point win."
Sophomore forward Josh Scott, who has proven time and time again to be a powerful force for the Buffaloes this season, led the team with 20 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks. Three more Buffs contributed double-digit scoring throughout the game, including Booker (13), Jaron Hopkins (10), and Xavier Johnson (10).
For the game, the Buffs shot an impressive 29-for-57 from the field (50.9%), 6-for-16 from the three (37.5%), and 19-for-22 from the foul line (86.4%). In addition to that, 11 of the 12 players who saw minutes during the game scored at least two points.
"We needed it a lot," Booker said. "When the whole team gets in and everybody gets a little piece of the victory, it's great."
The Trojans weren't so lucky on offense. They only shot 21-for-57 from the field (36.8%), 4-for-16 from the three-point range (25.0%), and 16-for-17 from the free throw line (94.1%). They only had two players contribute double-digit scoring on offense thanks to J.T. Terrell and Omar Oraby, who each finished with 16 points apiece.
Not only did the Buffs outplay the Trojans on offense, but they also outrebounded them by 20, 43-23.
Wesley Gordon was a huge factor for the Buffs on defense, blocking five shots and grabbing eight rebounds on top of his five points. He set a career-high mark in blocks during the game.
The Buffs dominated the game right from the start. They got the early lead with a pair of free throws from freshman guard Hopkins, but the Trojans responded quickly with a two-point jumper from Nikola Jovanovic to tie the score at 2-2.
After that, the Buffs took over. Throughout the next five minutes, they went on an 18-0 run to get their biggest lead of the half at 20-2, and didn't give the Trojans any chances to catch up. For the remainder of the half, USC managed to decimate the deficit to only 12 points with three minutes left.
By the time the buzzer sounded, the Buffs held a 17-point lead over the Trojans, 40-23.
The Buffs looked strong offensively in the first half after shooting at least 30% from everywhere on the floor. They went 15-for-31 from the field (48.4%), 3-for-10 from the three-point range (30.0%), and 7-for-7 from the free throw line.
The Trojans, on the other hand, struggled a bit on offense. They shot 8-for-26 from the field (30.8%), 1-for-8 from beyond the arc (12.5%), and were 6-for-6 from the charity stripe.
Coming out in the second half, the Trojans scored four unanswered points to close the gap to 13 points, 40-27. But that was the closest they would get for the rest of the game.
Over the next 18 minutes, the Buffaloes never let the Trojans gain any momentum. They gained their biggest lead of the game with 5:34 left on the clock, when Hopkins sunk a two-point jumper to put the Buffs up by 28 points, 77-49.
The Trojans tried to cut away at that lead, but only managed to cut it down to 21 by the end of the game. The Buffaloes ran away with an easy 83-62 victory.
"Spencer is a key aspect to this team and without him, it was rough the first game," Booker said. "But I think tonight, it showed that we came together and we played as a team...Tonight is a sign of letting our team know we can win without him and Tre'Shaun (Fletcher)."
"(This win) gives us a lot of confidence, me especially, but we're not going to let that override the challenge that we have," Hopkins said. "We know Arizona is a really good team--they're number one in the nation--so we're just going to have to go and dial in."
"Don't count this team out," Boyle said. "These guys have toughness, they got grit, and we can win some games in this league. It's not going to be easy. Going into Tucson this week is not going to be easy, it's not easy for anybody, but all you can ask for in life is an opportunity and we got a great one in front of us."