-- BREAKING IT DOWN --
Key moment(s): Starting strong. The Trojans came out firing on all cylinders to open the game. After Omar Oraby won the tip, the Trojans swung the ball around and found an open Nikola Jovanovic, who knocked down a 3-pointer to open the scoring. While Cal State Fullerton turned the ball over on its first three possessions, USC scored points on each offensive possession to take a 6-0 lead before the Titans ever attempted a shot.
Fullerton's offensive ineptitude continued over the first seven minutes of the game as the Titans managed only four field goal attempts while giving the ball away seven times. USC capitalized on the mistakes by storming out to an 18-3 lead that they never looked back from. The Trojans pushed the lead to as many as 24 points, withstood a 14-0 Fullerton second-half run, and never let the Titans get the lead down to double digits as USC came away with the 76-62 victory.
Player of the game: Omar Oraby. When you have a half-foot advantage down low in basketball, you are supposed to dominate and that's exactly what Omar Oraby did when the ball was in his hands. Oraby scored 15 points on 4-of-5 shooting while grabbing nine rebounds and swatting away six feeble attempts from Cal State Fullerton.
"He's virtually unstoppable when we get the ball to him in the paint," USC head coach Andy Enfield said. "He's unstoppable. He either draws a foul or he scores it. He shoots a very high percentage."
The 7-foot-2 senior took advantage of playing against a team whose tallest starter was 6-foot-7 forward Steve McClelland -- he was in foul trouble the entire game and fouled out after playing only 15 minutes. After his 80 percent shooting night, Oraby has now made 18 of his 24 shots this season; he's shooting 75 percent on the year!
"When you shoot 80 percent or 75 percent from the field, that means you're not taking enough shots," Enfield said.
Most Spectacular Play(s): Finally Works. To open up the second half, USC decided to run a play it has tried on three or four occasions this season. After the point guard passes to the weak side, the Trojans run a simple quick screen at the top of the key looking for an alley-oop for the point guard.
Tonight, Julian Jacobs dished to Pe'Shon Howard while Byron Wesley and Oraby flowed to the strong side bringing their defenders with them. Jacobs got a screen from Jovanovic, took three strides, caught an on-the-money pass and threw it down to begin the final 20 minutes with two points.
Break the Press. Trailing by double digits with less than four minutes to go, Cal State Fullerton tried to employ a full-court trapping press. Jacobs nearly lost the ball in the short corner, but was able to spin away from the double team and send the ball up the court to Howard, who took one power dribble and floated it up to Omar Oraby, who threw down his third dunk of the night. For a little extra effect, Howard did what's becoming his trademark -- a small double hop after releasing a lob pass.
Unsung Hero: Julian Jacobs. The freshman point guard had the most complete game of his young USC career. He scored 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting, including knocking down his only three-point attempt and his only free throw attempt. Julian Jacobs also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out five assists. He is now averaging 6.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. Jacobs is very active on the defensive glass, which often helps him to grab-n-go to initiate the fast break.
Here's Jacobs after the game:
"Step It Up:" Hold the Lead. With USC dominating with a 22-point lead at the first media timeout of the second half, head coach Andy Enfield took out his three leading scorers (Wesley, Oraby, Jacobs), putting four bench players on the court together. If Enfield was experimenting with lineups, this one was definitely a fail. Cal State Fullerton scored the next 12 points to cut USC's lead down to 10 points -- the smallest margin since the Trojans first opened up a double-digit lead at 12-2.
With another game on Thursday, Enfield likely would have preferred to rest some of his starters. Instead the bench accounted for only 16 second-half minutes outside of Strahinja Gavrilovic, who was in the lineup due to Nikola Jovanovic's foul troubles.
Key stat(s): 24. The Trojans pushed their lead to 24 points early in the second half, giving them ample wiggle room to withstand Cal State Fullerton's second-half push.
4. Good thing USC had a huge lead. Following the bucket to make it a 24-point gap with 15:39 remaining, the Trojans made only four field goals the rest of the way. USC did knock down 9 of its last 10 free throws (and grabbed the offensive rebound on the only miss).
7-for-18. Speaking of free throws, Fullerton shot only 39 percent from the line, missing 11 freebies. No Titan player finished above 50 percent from the charity stripe on the night.
Quote of the Night:
"I am sensing that I just got my ass kicked. I don't know what the hell to think." -- Cal State Fullerton head coach Dedrique Taylor.
Sideline Strategy: Noticeably absent from the USC box score was J.T. Terrell. Terrell dressed but did not play because of a coaches' decision. When asked after the game, Andy Enfield said Terrell once again missed the game due to academic reasons.
"It's not a situation where he did something off the court, was disrespectful. In fact, he's a very respectful young man. It's one of those situations we'll handle internally," Enfield said. "To play for me and be a student-athlete at USC, you have to do certain things academically."
This is the third game in a row that Terrell's status has been affected by academics. He did not start last Tuesday because of "academic issues" and according to Enfield, he did not start Friday's game because he had to miss shootaround to attend to academic matters.
While the Trojans have gone 3-0 without Terrell in the starting lineup, the senior from North Carolina could be a valuable asset to the team this season. He is a tremendous athlete and becomes one of the country's top shooters when he catches fire.
Where They Stand: The Trojans moved to 3-1 as they continue to take care of the lackluster teams in their non-conference schedule. There's one more game to take care of on Thursday when USC hosts West Alabama at 7 p.m. before the Trojans have a week off heading into the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas Thanksgiving weekend.
"It's very important," Enfield said of Thursday's matchup. "We need to hold home court. We need every win we can get if we want to go to the postseason."
The Trojans will go up against some true competition, facing off with three high-major teams starting with Villanova in their tournament opener and followed by either Kansas or Wake Forest, depending on game outcomes. After three games in paradise, USC will return to Los Angeles to take on the ACC's Boston College, making for four strong contests in a row.
When asked about his young players' preparation for next week's tournament, Enfield said it would be completely new:
"I don't think they have any clue what's in store for them when you play three straight days against top 25 talent."
Highlights: Some quick highlights from @USC_Hoops: