On Saturday night, Vince Iwuchukwu made his first start in a USC uniform. After seven months of recovery from a sudden cardiac arrest last summer, the 7-footer was able to take the court and help the Trojans to an 80-74 victory over Washington. Although Iwuchukwu only played 10 minutes, his presence was felt as the Trojans were thin up front due to an ankle injury to starting center Josh Morgan.
Tre White and Kobe Johnson led the way for USC, both recording career highs in points. White put up 22 points and eight rebounds while Johnson had 21 points, five assists, and four steals. Coach Andy Enfield was impressed by Johnson’s performance, calling it “one of the best games I’ve seen from a Trojan.”
Despite Iwuchukwu’s presence, USC still had difficulty in the frontcourt. Iwuchukwu was pulled after two minutes due to defensive lapses, and none of the other bigs were able to provide a spark. Enfield experimented with different lineups, going small at times and even playing five guards.
The Trojans’ two leaders, Drew Peterson and Boogie Ellis, also had an off night, combining for 25 points after scoring 43 in the previous game. Johnson stepped up to fill the void, playing through an ankle injury to help USC to the win.
The win was a testament to the Trojans’ resilience and their ability to overcome adversity. Iwuchukwu’s first start was a symbolic torchlight march, and with his help, USC was able to come out on top.