LOS ANGELES — Texas A&M brought a boxing mindset into its game against No. 10 Southern California. The Aggies landed the first punch and then delivered the knockout blow.
D.J. Hogg scored 15 points and the 16th-ranked Aggies pulled away for good with a 19-3 run in the second half to win 75-59 on Sunday night in the first matchup of ranked opponents at Galen Center since 2007.
Duane Wilson added 13 points and Tyler Davis had 10 for the Aggies (6-0), who tied their best start under coach Billy Kennedy.
Wilson said the Aggies approached the game as a 12-round fight and broke it into four-minute segments.
“Every four minutes we’d be like, ‘OK, next four minutes,'” he said. “We didn’t try to look ahead or look farther than what it needed to be. That was really our game plan. One play at a time, get defensive stops.”
The Aggies were bolstered by the presence of Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, who played one season at A&M.
“He showed a lot of love,” Wilson said.
Texas A&M hadn’t forgotten losing by two points at home to USC last season.
“We felt like we owed them a win,” Wilson said.
Chimezie Metu scored 13 points for the Trojans (4-1). Their 21-game home non-conference winning streak was snapped.
USC opened the second half on an 11-4 run, with Metu’s dunks sandwiching the run that included a 3-pointer by Elijah Stewart and tied the game at 42-all.
But the Aggies put the game away with their decisive run that gave them a 61-45 lead. Freshman T.J. Starks scored eight points, one of five players who contributed in the spurt.
“We keep proving everybody wrong, each and every game,” Wilson said. “We’ve got that chip on our shoulder because every game we’re going to everybody thinks we’re not as good as advertised.”
The Trojans never got closer than 10 points the rest of the way. Their leading scorer, Bennie Boatwright, sat for a long stretch in the second half because of foul trouble. He was held to 10 points — 8.5 under his average.
“We kept missing easy shots,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “You could just see on their faces it was a tough stretch for them. This is the worst game we’ve shot the ball from the field since we’ve been here five years and that’s on me.”
USC was limited to a season-low 28 percent shooting from the floor and got outrebounded 52-39. It was the Trojans’ worst shooting performance since making 26 percent against Utah on Feb. 1, 2015.
“They kept hitting shots and we didn’t,” said guard Jordan McLaughlin, who was held to eight points. “It kind of was a little bit deflating.”
The Aggies twice led by nine in the first half, taking a 21-12 lead to start the game. USC got within two three times, but couldn’t take the lead.
Jordan sat adjacent to the Aggies’ bench after hugging several people affiliated with the team upon arriving. He was taken by the Clippers in the second round of the 2008 NBA draft. “They came in, in a tough environment on the road, and beat a top-tier team,” Jordan said. “As a one-year alumni that was really cool to see.” Jordan visited the team after the game and remembered being an 18-year-old eager to improve his game. “But these guys are way more advanced than I was at that age,” he said. “Any time you can support some guys who are going through the same things you went through, it’s the best.”
OFF THE BENCH
USC’s Nick Rakocevic scored all of his 11 points in the first half. He sprained his ankle in the second game of the season, which lowered his minutes recently. “He gave us great energy and played good defense 1-on-1 in the post,” Enfield said. “That’s the type of productivity we’re looking for from him.”
WINNING ON BOTH COASTS
The Aggies already beat Oklahoma State and Penn State in New York in the Legends Classic. Now they have a win in Los Angeles. “It doesn’t get any bigger than that,” Kennedy said.
The Aggies earned their first win over a top-10 opponent since beating No. 10 Gonzaga 62-61 on Nov. 26, 2015. With their second win of the season over a ranked team and losses by some teams ahead of them, they should rise closer to the top 10. They beat then-No. 11 West Virginia on Nov. 10. “We had a bad year last year so they’re still a little asleep on us,” Hogg said.
USC was riding the program’s highest ranking since the 1974-75 season, but the loss will drop them out of the top 10 on Monday.
The Aggies return home to play Texas-Rio Grande Valley on Thursday.
The Trojans visit SMU on Saturday. They lead the all-time series 5-1, with USC winning the last four meetings, including 66-65 in the NCAA Tournament in March.