Kobe Johnson has become USC’s sophomore stopper on defense

All it took was one, fast look out of the nook of his eye for Kobe Johnson to know what was about to occur subsequent.USC was clinging to a four-point lead with lower than three minutes remaining Thursday evening at Galen Middle when Johnson noticed Washington State’s Carlos Rosario transferring towards the ring. Johnson reacted instantaneously, leaving his man to reach a break up second earlier than Rosario, intercepting the move on the sport’s most crucial juncture.It was exactly the kind of heady play the Trojans have come to anticipate from their 6-foot-6 sophomore stopper wing, whose instincts have made him important to USC’s defensive id. Coach Andy Enfield didn’t hesitate Thursday evening to anoint Johnson as “the most effective defender within the Pac-12.”“He learn the cutter. That was an unimaginable steal,” Enfield mentioned of Johnson’s clutch play in the course of the Trojans’ 80-70 victory. “To see that reduce occur, then go and steal the ball, was in all probability the largest play of the sport.”For Johnson, it was nothing out of the odd. He had already earned a repute on the Trojans’ practices for being a defensive menace, with an unusual capability to anticipate passes earlier than they occur.“He’s all the time making an attempt to cheat the play and be within the passing lanes,” level guard Boogie Ellis mentioned. “He’ll disguise behind an enormous after which come out of nowhere to get the steal. And it’s like, ‘Dang.’ That’s Kobe.” In that regard, few within the nation have been higher at defending the perimeter this season. Johnson’s 4.6% steal fee ranks twenty third in faculty basketball. Towards Washington State, he helped maintain TJ Bamba, the Cougars’ high scorer, to one among his worst taking pictures performances of the season (two for 10, seven factors). USC’s Kobe Johnson, proper, knocks the ball away from Washington State’s TJ Bamba on Thursday evening. Johnson helped maintain Bamba to seven factors.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Occasions) Though his defensive prowess has been prolific this season, Johnson has but to make a lot of a mark on the opposite finish. He has taken simply 14.3% of USC’s photographs whereas he’s on the court docket, a fee that ranks second lowest amongst guards within the Pac-12 Convention. Till the ultimate minutes Thursday, Johnson had but to try a shot.That truth didn’t appear to trouble Enfield, who shook off a query about whether or not Johnson could possibly be stored on the ground with out offering a lot offense. He added that Johnson had been battling an ankle damage.“I don’t care if Kobe scores a degree,” the coach mentioned. “He simply helps you win in so many areas.”On Thursday, he even ultimately helped the Trojans’ offense. With lower than 4 minutes left, Johnson stood uncovered past the three-point arc. When the ball discovered him, he didn’t hesitate to let a three-pointer fly, sinking the shot that might give USC the lead for good.Morgan damage replace
Josh Morgan will miss USC’s sport Saturday evening in opposition to Washington (13-11, 5-8 Pac-12) at Galen Middle after he suffered an ankle damage Thursday, an individual conversant in the matter who was not approved to talk publicly in regards to the damage instructed The Occasions. Whether or not that damage is greater than only a unhealthy sprain was unsure Friday.With Morgan out for a minimum of one sport, freshman 7-footer Vince Iwuchukwu is prone to make his first faculty begin for the Trojans (16-6, 8-3). Iwuchukwu has performed in simply six video games this season since he returned from a traumatic episode final summer time by which he suffered cardiac arrest. Iwuchukwu stays on a minutes restriction as a part of his restoration from that incident. He performed a season-high 22 minutes Thursday and isn’t prone to play rather more than that within the coming video games as USC continues to deliver him alongside cautiously.However he should tackle an even bigger position whereas Morgan is sidelined, as will fellow massive males Kijani Wright, Harrison Hornery and Iaroslav Niagu, none of whom have quite a lot of faculty video games underneath their belt.“We now have plenty of inexperience, however I believe they’ll be up for the problem,” Enfield mentioned. “They must get able to play.”