PHOENIX — Boogie Ellis scored 16 points, Drew Peterson added 14 and No. 10 USC overcame a shaky start to beat Georgia Tech 67-53 Saturday in the Colangelo Classic.
The Trojans (11-0) needed some time to solve Georgia Tech’s aggressive zone, relying on their defense early before pulling away from the Yellow Jackets. USC went on a big run to lead by nine at halftime and kept making shots in the second to remain undefeated.
Georgia Tech (5-5) has labored through a gauntlet of tough games, losing to Wisconsin, North Carolina and No. 19 LSU before arriving in the desert. The Yellow Jackets’ biggest issue has been scoring — 207th in Division I — and it continued against the long, athletic Trojans.
Georgia Tech had some good moments in the first half but finished 33% from the floor and 5 for 19 from the 3-point arc.
Michael Devoe led the Yellow Jackets with 25 points.
The Trojans have shown no letdown in their follow-up to last year’s Elite Eight run, locking down teams while dominating in the paint.
USC held its first 10 opponents to 61.4 points per game and 35% shooting, including 27% from 3.
The Trojans were at it again, but had all kinds of problems with Georgia Tech’s zone early, missing 12 of their first 14 shots — 1 for 6 from 3 — with four turnovers in the first seven minutes.
Then something clicked.
Working the ball better around Georgia Tech’s zone, USC hit five 3-pointers and got into the lane for a couple of close-range shots during a 23-4 run to go up 33-18.
The Yellow Jackets had their own offensive problems. They had an early 9-0 run and scored the final six points of the first half but shot 10 of 30 to trail 33-24.
The trend continued in the second half.
Georgia Tech missed 11 of its first 15 shots while USC went 9 for 13 to stretch the lead to 53-37.
The Yellow Jackets’ defense triggered a 10-0 run — USC went scoreless for nearly five minutes — to pull within 53-47, but Peterson hit a 3 and USC stretched the lead from there.
USC next plays Oklahoma State in the Compete 4 Cause Classic on Tuesday in Oklahoma City.