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November 20, 2013
USC drops CSUF without Terrell
Despite the noticeable absence of senior guard J.T. Terrell in the Trojans' lineup, USC claimed its third consecutive win of the season. Enfield and Co. defeated the Cal State Fullerton Titans 76-62.
According to head coach Andy Enfield, Terrell sat out Tuesday's game due to academic reasons.
"He was eligible for tonight's game. We will make some decisions in the next couple of days about his short term eligibility and standing with the team," Enfield said. "J.T. is an excellent kid, I love him. We are here to support him but he needs to do what is necessary to be a student-athlete. It is not a situation in which he did something off the court or did something disrespectful. He is a very respectful kid and player. This is one of those situations that we will handle internally."
Terrell sat out the first of the Trojans' home opener against Cal State Northridge last week. It is uncertain whether Terrell will be eligible for the spring semester as fall grades are not released until mid-December.
Terrell's absence led to another impressive performance by junior guard Byron Wesley. Wesley scored 22 points against the Titans while adding 8 rebounds and 2 assists.
Byron Wesley's consistent play in the Trojans' first four games of the season has not gone unnoticed by his teammates.
"As coach [Enfield] said, [Wesley] is becoming an all-around good team player. When we draw up plays for him, we almost know what we are getting. He is really consistent that way," said freshman guard Julian Jacobs. "I love playing with him because you know what you are going to get. Everybody knows what to expect out of Bryon. He is really improving from watching last year. He isn't forcing anything and he is just playing within the system and that is really fun to play with."
Senior guard Pe'Shon Howard feels Wesley is thriving in the new system because of its versatility.
"In our system, a lot of guys can bring it up. Sometimes, Byron [Wesley] brings it up too so a lot of people are interchangeable at those positions," Howard said. "We just play off each other. [Wesley] does a great job at having a good all-around game. He gets a lot of assists and rebounds; that just brings another dimension. He is a great defender and a bigger guard too. I think for us, guys can rebound and push it and we are able to play off each other that way."
The Trojans' victory was also fueled by senior center Omar Oraby. Oraby added 15 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 blocks while shot 80 percent from the field.
"[Oraby] is virtually unstoppable when we get the ball to him in the paint. He either draws a foul or scores it. He shoots a very high percentage," Enfield said. "Tonight he demanded the ball and we got him the ball. We can't expect much more from Omar. We do expect a little more on the defensive end at times, he gets a little winded but he is in better condition and we need to keep his condition up."
The second half was plagued by sloppy play which gave way to a 14-0 run by the Titans, which also cut the Trojans lead down to 10.
"We got up early and played to maintain the lead. With this style, you keep playing full pedal and it means you need more control and slow down and be a little conservative which is not really our style," Howard said. "That's also just how it goes. You get up by a lot early and maintaining that focus is hard especially with a young team. It is a little early [in the season] and that is expected. As the season goes on, there won't be those types of games. Fullerton is a great team and they did a great job at hanging around and not giving up."
Howard feels that the team is adjusting well to the up tempo play style and that the team is solely focusing on themselves rather than particular opponents on the horizon. "Every day is something new especially for this team and our coaching staff. Everything is new for everybody and we remind ourselves of that," he said. "We can't be too hard on each other and a lot of the hype that is going around and the expectations based on last year, you can't base too much into it, you just have to play the season. Each day we try to come in, get better and focus on us. The rest will play out as long as we come in and work hard."
USC (3-1) hosts West Alabama (1-2) Thursday night at Galen Center.