LOS ANGELES (AP) — Five games into his college career, Evan Mobley keeps unveiling different aspects to his game.
The standout freshman had 22 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks, and Southern California routed UC Irvine 91-56 on Tuesday night.
“Every single time I just do what I see is open: drive, pop, kickout,” he said. “The best play possible and usually it works out.”
San Jose State transfer Noah Baumann added 18 points for the Trojans (4-1). Isaiah Mobley had nine points and six rebounds, giving the Mobley brothers 17 of USC’s 42 rebounds.
“Evan has his own presence,” Baumann said. “He’s definitely a player that can do a lot and every game sort of brings something out that we didn’t see before. This is only the start for him.”
Evan Mobley, last week's Pac-12 freshman of the week, did a little bit of everything. He had a monster one-handed dunk that drew a technical for celebrating. Minutes later, he hit a 3-pointer before picking up his third foul. The Trojans' celebrated recruit dunked early in the game and his older brother fed him for a 3-pointer.
“I get more comfortable every single time I step on the floor,” Evan Mobley said. “Every single day I work on the 3. I feel like it’s paying off in the games.”
Evan Mobley's favorite stat? His blocked shots.
“I just try to be active on defense,” he said. “Anytime they drive, just try to alter their shots.”
The Trojans led 58-30 on another 3-pointer by Evan Mobley, who followed teammate's Tahj Eaddy's trey.
The Anteaters (2-3) got seven straight points from Austin Johnson and a basket by Andre Henry to close to 58-41. But they got no closer.
Freshman Dawson Baker led Irvine with 17 points. Johnson added 10 points and seven rebounds.
“We weren’t really ever able to get our footing defensively or on the glass,” Irvine coach Russell Turner said. “We didn’t do anything at all to dictate the game with our defense. When we’ve won games against power conference teams we’ve done that.”
Not to be outdone, Isaiah Mobley had a dunk of his own that kept the Trojans ahead by 23. Little brother returned the favor late in the game, feeding Isaiah for a 3 in front of the Trojans' bench.
The Trojans improved to 7-2 all-time against Irvine in the teams' first meeting since 2012.
The Anteaters kept it close halfway through the first half, trailing by five points after a 3-pointer from Baker.
Then the Trojans took over.
They outscored Irvine 16-2, including 11 consecutive points, to extend their lead to 33-14. Baumann bookended the run with 3-pointers. Chevez Goodwin had five points and Evan Mobley had a three-point play.
Baumann and Evan Mobley hit back-to-back 3-pointers later in the half, with Isaiah Mobley feeding his younger brother. The Trojans' largest lead of the half came at the break when they were up 46-21.
UC Irvine: The Anteaters won back-to-back Big West outright titles last season for the first time. They'll try for a three-peat with the nation's second-youngest team this season, with 13 underclassmen (including the sophomore Jeron Artest, son of retired NBA player Metta Sandiford-Artest) and just two upperclassmen. Artest was scoreless with three rebounds and four turnovers in 25 minutes.
USC: The Trojans begin Pac-12 play against Stanford at Galen Center, where they've won the last four times against the Cardinal. The teams met just once last season, with the Trojans winning 82-78 in overtime.
The Trojans had a different lineup, going with Max Agbonkpolo and Baumann in place of Isaiah White and Eaddy. White has been sick this week and Eaddy was late to shootaround. Starting guard Ethan Anderson missed the game with a back injury, but may return on Sunday.
UC Irvine: Visits Loyola Marymount on Dec. 17.
USC: Hosts Stanford on Sunday in the Trojans' Pac-12 opener and second of three straight home games.
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