Seton Hall will aim to continue its undefeated start to the season against No. 23 Southern California on Thursday in opening-round play at the Rady Children’s Invitational in San Diego.
USC (3-1) will make the short trip south for the four-team event, which also features Iowa and Oklahoma. The Trojans rebounded from a 70-60 loss on Nov. 14 to UC Irvine with an 81-70 defeat of Brown on Sunday, although USC needed a 15-4 run down the stretch to break a late tie.
Boogie Ellis, who missed the loss to UC Irvine with an ankle sprain, returned to the lineup to get 28 points and four assists against Brown.
Ellis and Isaiah Collier — who scored 24 points on Sunday — are pacing USC offensively at 21 points per game each.
“He really, really hurt himself in the second game (an 85-59 rout of Cal State Bakersfield on Nov. 9), so he’s been out and hasn’t practiced,” Trojans coach Andy Enfield said of Ellis in Sunday’s post-game press conference. “I was really proud of him tonight, because a lot of guys like Kobe (Johnson) and Boogie aren’t 100 percent yet.”
Johnson missed both the win over Cal State Bakersfield and the loss to UC Irvine with an unspecified injury but returned to score 14 points, including a crucial 3-pointer late against Brown.
“I knew I wasn’t shooting the ball well, but I have confidence enough … coming into the game just to keep shooting and stay locked in,” Johnson said following Sunday’s win.
The Trojans now will face a Seton Hall team that has cruised through the first four games on its schedule.
The Pirates (4-0) dispatched Saint Peter’s, Fairleigh Dickinson, Albany and Wagner by an average margin of 21.8 points per game. In a 72-51 blowout of Wagner last Saturday, three Seton Hall scorers reached double figures, and six finished with at least seven points.
Dre Davis, who led the way against Wagner with 17 points, is one of three Pirates averaging in double figures heading into Thursday’s matchup. He is at 12.8 points per game, matching Al-Amir Dawes’ output.
Kadary Richmond is averaging 14 points, 7 rebounds and 4.5 assists a game.
“It’s definitely exciting, obviously to be able to travel. New atmosphere, be able to play against some teams we won’t get the chance to throughout the season,” Davis said of the trip to the West Coast. “It’s a good opportunity to show who we are on a bigger stage.”
Seton Hall comes in averaging 80.8 points per game, thanks in part to shooting 60.9 percent inside the 3-point arc. The USC defense has limited opponents to 37.8 percent shooting, thanks in part to the presence of 6-foot-11 Joshua Morgan (eight blocked shots) in the interior.
Seton Hall defeated USC 63-61 in the teams’ most recent meeting on Nov. 20, 2008, in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
–Field Level Media
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