USC freshman Evan Mobley has wasted little time in showing why he was placed on the top-50 preseason watch list for the Wooden Award.
With a 17-point, 11-rebound double-double, the first of his college career, the 19-year-old 7-footer helped the Trojans rout BYU by 26 points in the Mohegan Sun bubble in Uncasville, Conn. on Tuesday.
Thursday night, Mobley and USC aim for similar success when they return to "Bubbleville" for a non-conference matchup with Connecticut.
The third-rated player in this year's freshman class, Mobley hasn't experienced much trouble adjusting to the college game, averaging 16.3 points and 9.0 rebounds in the Trojans' 3-0 start. And the smooth assimilation is aided by the caliber of players around him -- which includes his brother, sophomore Isaiah Mobley, who recorded his own double-double (11 points and 11 boards).
Rice transfer Drew Peterson hit 7 of 10 shots on his way to a game-high 19 points, and Southeast Missouri State grad transfer Tahj Eaddy supplied 16 points for the Trojans.
That kind of balance and skill is one reason the Trojans are expected to contend for a Pac-12 title. A defense that limited a normally potent BYU attack to 27.5 percent from the field is another.
"When we're playing as a unit, our talent can take us to levels that can win a Pac-12 championship and we know that," Peterson told the Orange County Register after a Saturday night win over Montana.
Hopes are high for Connecticut this year, too, as the Huskies return to their natural habitat in the Big East after seven years in the American Athletic Conference. The Huskies enter 2-0 after opening with home wins over Central Connecticut State and Hartford.
Not that UConn coach Dan Hurley is waving rose petals at his team. Much like his dad, Bob, a legendary high school coach for nearly four decades in New Jersey, Dan doesn't brook excuses or sloppy play. The win over Hartford featured the Huskies nearly blowing a 19-point lead and sending the visitors to the line 27 times.
"Dumb fouls. We just weren't in a stance, we were just sloppy, immature," Hurley said to the Hartford Courant. "It was just low level, low focus."
James Bouknight (19.0 ppg, 6.0 rebounds) is UConn's top scorer through two games. Rhode Island transfer Tyrese Martin made a nice impression in his Huskies debut against Hartford with six points and 10 rebounds in 25 minutes.
--Field Level Media
|No previous meeting.|
|Connecticut Off vs Southern California Defense|
85.5 Points For
67.3 Points Against
|Southern California Off vs Connecticut Defense|
83.3 Points For
66.0 Points Against