• Mon. Jun 17th, 2024

USC’s Bronny James shines with highlight jam, season-best 15


Dec 31, 2023 #Sports


CORVALLIS, Ore. — USC dropped to 0-2 in Pac-12 play, falling 86-70 to Oregon State at Gill Coliseum on Saturday, but the Trojans got their best game yet from Bronny James.

In his fifth game back after suffering cardiac arrest in late July, James shot 6-for-11 and scored a career-high 15 points to go with three assists off the bench. The freshman guard’s previous high was six points in a 79-59 win over Alabama State on Dec. 19.

“Bronny’s a great player,” said USC senior guard Boogie Ellis, who led USC in scoring with 20 points. “I know he’s going to make plays, make things happen. He brings a lot of energy for us, and he’s been great on defense.

“To see what he’s been through and to come back and play like this, it shows how great he is. I’m just glad that he’s playing well and everybody else got to continue to play well with him.”

James played 20 minutes, his most of the season while on a minutes restriction after missing over four months of basketball. He had not played more than 17 minutes in a game before Saturday night.

Entering the night, James had largely played in three- to four-minute stretches. But at Oregon State, James played his longest stretches of the season, including a nearly six-minute stint in the second half before finishing the final 6:50 of the game.

“We feel comfortable playing him more minutes,” USC coach Andy Enfield said after the game. “And as long as he can keep that energy up, I thought he did a great job tonight.”

Enfield added, “He looks more comfortable each game.”

James, the eldest son of Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, had two breakaway highlights Saturday, which was his father’s birthday. On one play, he took a turnover, split defenders and scored on a driving, hanging layup while being fouled for a three-point play with 12:13 to go in the half.

And then with 2:21 left before halftime, James stole the ball and took it in for a one-handed breakaway dunk.

In the second half, James hit his two 3-pointers, including a stepback 3 on the baseline to cut a 20-point deficit to 71-61 with 3:43 left. But Oregon State (9-4, 1-1) would not let USC get any closer. Tyler Bilodeau scored 26 points to lead the Beavers.

“We just got to be better defensively,” Ellis said. “We got to be more passionate on defense. We can’t let guys … everybody is starting to have their career highs against us. We just got to just take more pride. [Bilodeau] can’t have 26 points on us. We’re much better than we’re showing, much better defensively.”


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