Just days after a disappointing opening night loss, USC's Trojans bounced back in their home opener with a decisive 95-79 victory over Cal State Northridge.
"It was a good team win," USC head coach Andy Enfield said. "We produced points off the bench unlike Friday against Utah State. Cal State Northridge is well-coached and aggressive. They had a lot of rebounds and they got to the foul line. We did what we had to do in the second half to win but they're a very good basketball team."
Those bench points played a huge role. Starters like 7-foot-2 center Omar Oraby had 17 points and six rebounds. Junior guard Byron Wesley added 16 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. But it was the USC subs, who outscored CSUN's bench 42-16, that was the biggest reason the Trojans improved to 1-1.
"I was very impressed with Brendyn Taylor off the bench tonight," Enfield said. "He hit two big three-pointers that really sparked us with energy and D.J. Haley did the same thing. We need some energy off the bench because sometimes, we'll go into a two or three minute lull on the defensive end. If we can get that type of production, we'll be okay."
It might not be fair to refer to those 42 points as bench points. The coaching staff sat guys ho were considered key starters in previous games. The only two remaining starters from the Utah State game were Wesley and Oraby. Pe'Shon Howard and J.T. Terrell were replaced by Chass Bryan and Julian Jacobs. Roschon Prince started at forward over Strahinja Gavrilovic. Two of those changes were because the coaches were trying to figure out their lineups. J.T. Terrell was benched for a different issue.
"J.T. was held out because of an academic reason," Enfield said. "My players need to do what's necessary in the classroom. If they don't, they won't start or play."
Luckily, a lack of commitment in the classroom didn't hurt the Trojans. After the Matadors tied the game at 21 with about eight minutes left in the first half, USC took a lead and never looked back. The Trojans shot 57.1% from the floor, scored 50 points in the paint and had their two highest scoring halves since an upset win over the Arizona Wildcats last season. That doesn't mean that USC has fixed everything that caused issues against Utah State. The men of Troy gave up 19 offensive rebounds and allowed the Matadors to get to the free throw line 37 times.
"We have a long way to go," Enfield said. "We showed flashes where we played well for four or five minutes but we need to have consistency. A lot of that is our bench. Our starters aren't going to play well every night."
USC has won six consecutive home openers and 16 of the last 19.
USC's 95 points were the most points the Trojans have ever scored at the Galen Center.
Those 95 points were the most points USC has scored in a game since an overtime victory at Oregon during the 2008 season
Byron Wesley had a double-double, his first since high school. He was four assists away from recording the second triple-double in USC's history (Daniel Hackett has it).
Brendyn Taylor's two three-pointers matched his total number of three pointers from all of last season.
All 12 USC players who participated against CSUN scored points
More than half of the 200 minutes played tonight by USC players were logged by freshmen or sophomores
Despite not starting, Terrell had four assists, matching a career high
The four freshman scored 34 points, had 10 rebounds and eight assists. Nikola Jovanovic led them in points and rebounds with 11 and five. Jacobs had seven of the eight assists.
The Trojans are back in action at Galen Center Friday at 8 p.m. against Northern Arizona.
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