In a 68-61 win over Colorado at Galen Center on Thursday, freshman forward Vince Iwuchukwu took the court for the first time as a Trojan to a standing ovation from the home crowd.

Iwuchkwu suffered sudden cardiac arrest and collapsed during an informal team practice on July 1 of last year, an incident that required him to remain hospitalized for several days. Upon his return, USC held him out of all basketball-related activities. Prior to Thursday, the former 5-star recruit had yet to play in a game.

It was reported earlier this week that Iwuchukwu might be able to return over the weekend against Utah. But USC revealed just prior to tipoff Thursday night that Iwuchukwu was available.

Five minutes in, he checked into his first collegiate game.

A 7-foot center from Castaic (Calif.) Southern California Academy, Iwuchukwu was a 5-star prospect in the 2022 class and the 24th-ranked recruit in the country. With both forwards from last season’s team moving on, Iwuchukwu was expected to fill an immediate role for the Trojans this season.

He played five minutes in the win and got up two shots — both misses.

“He’s an incredible person. He’s been through a lot medically. He’s had so much support from our trainers, team doctors. It was really special,” said coach Andy Enfield after the game. “I think he’ll just get better and better. We were just so happy he was out there.”

While Iwuchukwu’s return provided an emotional boost to the Trojans, they still had a game against the Buffs. With two minutes to play, a jumper from CU’s KJ Simpson brought the Buffs within one point. The Trojans had led by as many as eight points 10 minutes prior, but Colorado just chipped away.

Simpson’s jumper was met with a flurry from the Trojans that put the game away, though. USC forced back-to-back turnovers on Colorado’s next two possessions and closed on an 8-2 run.

USC (12-5, 4-2 Pac-12) returns to the court on Saturday to host Utah, with tipoff set for 7:30 p.m. PT on the Pac-12 Network.