After shootaround, USC point guard Jordan McLaughlin and some teammates like to goof off a little bit, competing to see who can hit half-court shots. Except it isn’t really just fun and games for McLaughlin. It is game preparation.
“We won't leave until after we make a couple of half-court shots," McLaughlin said. "Just practice and routines. When you go over it so much, it becomes like muscle memory.”
His muscles have remembered well on a pair of recent half-court bank shots to beat the halftime buzzer, including in the Trojans’ 82-79 win over Arizona State on Sunday night. It was the fourth time that he has scored in the final second of the first half in the last six games. He also had the game-winning basket in overtime of USC's non-conference finale against Wyoming.
Head coach Andy Enfield has entrusted McLaughlin to be the Trojans’ playmaker when the clock is winding down. Against the Sun Devils, he called a timeout with 3.5 seconds remaining and told McLaughlin to go make some magic happen.
“He said, 'Drive the ball. Don't shoot it until you get to the three-point line,’” McLaughlin said.
Arizona State cut him off before the inbounds pass, forcing McLaughlin to catch the ball without any forward momentum. He raced up the right side of the court, taking four low dribbles and knew that he had to get the shot away.
“We practice drills like that taking as many dribbles -- a dribble per second Enfield says, so it was three seconds. Took a couple of dribbles and let it go around one second and it went in.”
McLaughlin began his shooting motion with 0.9 or 1.0 seconds remaining and released the ball with 0.4 seconds on the clock. It floated through the air before caroming off the backboard and into the net.
“That and like you said...a little bit of luck.”
McLaughlin finished with 18 points and eight assists in the win. He became the 37th USC Trojan to score 1,000 career points on Thursday and moved into fifth on the all-time school assists list on Sunday.
Watch Jordan McLaughlin, above, talk about his accomplishments, his buzzer-beating ability and the crosstown rivalry against UCLA.
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