LOS ANGELES (AP) Southern California knew it would have its work cut out for it Sunday with second-leading scorer and top passer Julian Jacobs out with tendonitis in his left Achilles.
Instead of relying on one player to pick up the slack, the Trojans got contributions from all over the court.
Bennie Boatwright scored 17 points, Katin Reinhardt and Jordan McLaughlin each scored 14, and USC cruised past Yale 68-56 for its third straight win.
Despite missing Jacobs, the Pac-12 leader in assists and assist-to-turnover ratio, the Trojans (8-2) took their first lead five minutes into the game and never trailed the rest of the way.
”Coach asked everyone to pick it up today and we did that,” McLaughlin said. ”We came out and played loose and everyone was able to produce and contribute to this win.”
Trojans coach Andy Enfield said he didn’t have a target date for Jacobs’ return and described his status as ”day-to-day.”
USC showed it can survive without him.
McLaughlin reached double figures in scoring for the first time in five games and added seven rebounds and four assists. Reinhardt scored all 14 of his points in the second half and Darion Clark had seven points, nine rebounds and two blocks in only 14 minutes.
USC outrebounded Yale 34-28, forced 16 turnovers and blocked six shots.
”Winning as a team is something we try to preach” Clark said. ”One guy goes down, we all got to step up. We’ve got a lot of good players, a lot of guys capable.”
Makai Mason scored 18 points and Justin Sears had 14 for the Bulldogs (5-5). Yale shot 5 of 19 from 3-point range and scored its fewest points of the season.
The Bulldogs have lost five of seven after starting the year 3-0.
”It wasn’t our best effort today,” Yale coach James Jones said. ”We’ve had a problem with turnovers and they came back today and hurt us. We didn’t rebound well, we didn’t shoot well, it wasn’t good.”
Boatwright led the way in the first half and Reinhardt the second for USC.
Boatwright scored 11 points in the first 10 minutes to help USC get out to an early 19-11 lead, and the Trojans cruised into halftime up 34-22. USC staged runs of 10-1 and 10-3 in the half. Boatwright had 14 points at the break.
Yale came out hot in the second half and made 6 of its first 7 field goals to cut USC’s lead to 40-35 with 15:45 to go, but McLaughlin hit a 3-pointer and Reinhardt converted a layup and free throw to extend the Trojans lead back out to double-digits.
USC led by at least three possessions the rest of the way.
”Last year we might not have responded when they made the run,” McLaughlin said, ”but we took our lumps in that and now we know how to handle it and get over the hump. We’re a much stronger team than we were last year.”
Yale: The Bulldogs previous season-low in scoring was 61 points in a loss to Duke on Nov. 25. . They shot 50 percent in the second half compared to 33.3 percent in the first. . Yale is 3-0 at home compared to 1-5 on the road this year.
USC: The Trojans are off to their best start since 2006-07, when they opened 9-2 and made the NCAA tournament. … They improved to 6-0 at home this season. … USC won the only previous meeting with Yale, 84-60 on Dec. 29, 1988.
Yale visits Central Connecticut State on Dec. 30.
USC hosts Cal Poly on Thursday.
RETRUN OF THE MAC
McLaughlin had his best game since suffering a broken nose against Xavier on Nov. 27. The Trojans’ leading scorer struggled wearing a clear plastic mask since then and had seen his scoring average drop from 19.3 points per game at the time of the injury to 13.1 going into Sunday.
”I’m starting to feel comfortable with the mask now,” McLaughlin said. ”I got some good practice time with it now this week, got some shots up, and feel like I need to.”
CLIMBING THE RANKS
Sears now has 1,405 career points and is eight away from passing Edwin Draughan for seventh in Yale history. The 6-foot-8 senior forward has scored at least 14 points in seven of his nine games played this season.