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December 19, 2009No matter what they say they saw in practice, no one could've predicted the kind of impact 6-foot-1, 180-pound Michael Gerrity would have.
Gerrity, a guy that looks like he rolled out of bed and snuck into the USC locker room and swiped a jersey, provided a huge lift as the Trojans' faced their toughest test at Galen Center to date. And thanks to an his incredible performance in his first game as a Trojan, USC pulled off a huge upset, knocking off No. 9 Tennessee 77-55 Saturday.
"I wouldn't have dreamed we'd be able to beat this team by that amount," Kevin O'Neil said.
Facing the Volunteers high-pressure defense, Gerrity sliced through the defense like a samurai, scoring 12 points and dishing out 10 assists in the win.
"I am shocked at how well he played," O'Neill said. "The guy's been off for a year and a half. He hasn't had any game-time experience, but he's a savvy player. He's great with the ball. He can get to the basket. He's unselfish. He makes great decisions.
"I thought he played a great, great game."
Gerrity transferred from Charlotte after the fall semester in 2008, and prior to that, he transferred after one year at Pepperdine. Saturday, though, he looked right at home meshing with the Trojans from the tip and taking their offense to another level.
"He makes a huge difference," Alex Stepheson said. "He's able to handle pressure well. He can penetrate and dish it off to me or (Nikola Vucevic), and he's able to create shots for himself. His first game back was great. I'm nothing but happy to have him with us."
It was plain to see how big of a difference Gerrity makes. USC finished with four players in double figures, and the Trojans shot 56.1 percent from the field.
"I don't know if I expected us to win the way we did," Gerrity said. "It was definitely something special today out there."
Dwight Lewis finished with a game-high 21 points, Stepheson added 19 points and 15 rebounds and Vucevic scored 15 and pulled down 10 boards in the win.
But for everything USC did on the offensive side of the ball, USC really made Tennessee pay with its defense. The Trojans held Tennessee to 55 points - the lowest point total for the Volunteers in 26 games.
"We've been playing really good D recently. It doesn't surprise me that we were able to hold (there scoring down," Stepheson said. "I'm thankful that they missed some shots. We minimized their ability to get offensive rebounds.
"We did a good job."
Tennessee shot just 34.5 percent from the field and made just two-of-22 three-point attempts. The Trojans also out-rebounded Tennessee 43-21.
As USC held the ball with the clock winding down, Lewis jumped up to celebrate with Stepheson. Then like a missile equipped with radar, he went right over to Gerrity and hugged him so hard. The force almost pushed Gerrity off the court.
"Mike helped us out a lot today," Lewis said. "He really solidified our point guard spot for us. He created so many plays. He broke the pressure. You could count on Mike to bring the ball up by himself. It was just great having him out there.
"It was fun. It made things so much easier."