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December 8, 2013

Trojans topple tough ACC foe




The Trojans returned to the Galen Center after a Bahamas trip to face another tough task. They answered the bell by defeating Boston College to improve to 6-3 on the year.

"It was a very good team win for us," head coach Andy Enfield said. "I thought the defense picked up in the second half. BC has three of the best shooters and scorers we've faced all year. Two of them average over 20 points a game. For them to shoot below their average I thought was a big key for the win. I was proud of our defensive effort."

USC's balanced offensive attack was a huge key in the 78-62 victory. Five Trojans scored in double figures and four of them were freshmen.

"They keep getting better," Enfield said. "It's what College Basketball is all about. It doesn't matter what class you're in, you're here to improve. It's on them and they've done a good job. I thought we had a great week of practice. I saw improvement from those three freshmen this week. Against Villanova and Wake (Forest), I thought out freshmen played poorly. Against Xavier they played well and I thought they played really well today…"

The game was a heated contest in the first half. After the halftime buzzer, the score was tied at 32. The score was tied despite the fact that USC had 9 more shot attempts and 9 more rebounds. The difference was quality attempts at the rim. Boston College made 48% of their first half shots compared to just 38.2% for the Trojans. That changed in the second half as the Eagles shooting percentage dipped to 37.3% compared to 46.6% for USC. If those numbers hadn't changed, it could have been very long night for Trojan fans.

"We knew the way they could beat us was from the three point line," Enfield said. "They made five three's in the first half and they also got some layups. They were doing a great job, they're a great offensive team. I think they averaged over 80 points a game coming in. For us to hold them to 62 is a credit to our players."

It became clear that USC wasn't going to let Boston College have that kind of game in the second half. After a Byron Wesley three, a block by Omar Oraby and a transition score by Nikola Jovanovic in the opening minute of the second half, the Trojans led 37-32 and never looked back. USC started hitting and grabbed control of a comfortable lead.

"When it was tied, we knew we had to grind it out," guard Pe'Shon Howard said. "We knew it would be a tough game. they played really hard. Boston College is way better than their record. They've had a tough out of conference schedule. We knew it wasn't going to be easy. The main thing was putting pressure on. We thought we should have been up more in the first half. It wasn't one of our better halves. We knew he had to stay positive and we would do well in the second half."

That doesn't mean there isn't plenty for the Trojans to improve. Although the Eagles are in the ACC and have played some solid teams, they're 3-6. USC needs to play better to compete in a load Pac-12 conference. Luckily for the Trojans, that won't happen until January.

USC's next game is against Cal State Bakersfield on December 15. The game will televised live from Galen Center on the Pac-12 network at 7pm.

Game Notes:

Andy Enfield shortened practice to one hour sessions prior to this game. The focus was to improve academics.

USC is now 5-0 at home. That's the best home start since starting 8-0 during the 2009 season.

Freshmen Julian Jacobs (16 points), Nikola Jovanovic (15) and Roschon Prince (14) scored 45 of USC's 78 points. For all three players, it was their season high for points scored.

USC out rebounded Boston College 44-27 today. USC has out rebounded 7 of their 9 opponents on the season.

USC had five players in double figures for the first time this season.

The Trojans entered the day as the worst free throw shooting team in the Pac-12 (64.3%). Today they made 78.3% of them.

The 32-32 tie at half was the first halftime tie of the season for USC.

USC scored 78 points today. It's the sixth time this season that they've scored over 73 points, matching last year's total.

Boston College shot 37.3% overall from the floor. The Trojans are now 4-0 when holding teams to under 40% shooting.

Recruits in attendance

2014 USC verbal commitment Malik Price Martin was on his second official visit to USC (post-graduate players can take two official visits to the same school)

2015 prospect Clifton Powell Jr. was in attendance. He's a 6-foot-2 shooting guard for Taft High in Woodland Hills, Calif.

2015 prospect Nuwriyl Williams was in attendance. He's a 6-foot-2 shooting guard for Santa Monica High.


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