A recent string of injuries to key players in the USC lineup opened the door for Bronny James to earn his first collegiate start at Colorado on Saturday night.
Starters Joshua Morgan, Boogie Ellis, and Isaiah Collier were sidelined, prompting Trojans coach Andy Enfield to include LeBron James’ son in the starting lineup.
However, the absence of Morgan (averaging 2.3 blocks per game), seasoned Ellis, and the projected first-round NBA draft pick Collier took its toll.
The Trojans, holding a 13-point halftime lead, ultimately succumbed to the challenges of the CU Events Center, situated at an elevation of 5,430 feet, the fifth-highest venue in college basketball.
The final score was a disappointing 68-58 defeat.
Bronny James also had a challenging night, finishing 0-for-7 with only two rebounds and one assist.
This loss dropped the Trojans to an 8-9 record (2-4 Pac-12) with a NET ranking in the 90s, making a spot in the NIT challenging to achieve.
The NCAA tournament is currently not a realistic discussion for Enfield’s program.
Despite the defeat, James, who played 25 minutes, continues to showcase growth amid the challenges.
It’s crucial to acknowledge that the game in Boulder marked only his ninth appearance as a Division I player.
USC will need more from the freshman and the entire roster to reverse its current course.
Here’s a breakdown of what we learned about Bronny James as a starter and USC without its star players:
- James made a crucial play early in the matchup, drawing an offensive foul on Colorado’s leading scorer, KJ Simpson, just minutes into the game.
This early move impacted Simpson’s cautious play throughout the first half.
2. James demonstrated a tendency to defer, especially at the beginning of the game when his teammates, including Oziyah Sellers, contributed to an early lead.
However, James needs to work on asserting himself more on the offensive end, as he struggled with an 0-for-5 start.
3. Despite early offensive struggles, James exhibited consistent energy and maintained defensive intensity throughout the game.
His confidence didn’t waver even as USC faced a scoring drought, showcasing promising signs for the freshman’s development.