J.T. Terrell Academically Ineligible; Trojans Defeat West Alabama 73-57

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Trojans third-leading scorer will be out for at least the next month of the season.

Senior guard J.T. Terrell has been ruled ineligible for the remainder of the fall semester. Enfield said depending upon the results of first semester exams, Terrell could be eligible after the fall semester ends on December 18th.

"With the academic support system here with academic advisors and tutors, if you can't succeed, it's not USC's fault. It's not the program's fault. It's your fault," Enfield said. "I think J.T. understands that. He needs to mature and do what he needs to do."

After starting and pouring in 20 points in the season opener at Utah State, Terrell didn't start the next two games due to academics. Then on Tuesday, he was held out all together. After the game Enfield said, "We have some decisions to make in the next couple of days as far as his eligibility."

Terrell is in the midst of his final season with USC after transferring from Peninsula JC two season ago following an impressive freshman campaign with Wake Forest, averaging 11.1 points per game as an ACC freshman.

Last season, Terrell came on strong under interim coach Bob Cantu averaging over 11 points per game in Pac-12 play and was expected to continue his development as a pure offensive player this season under new head coach Andy Enfield.

That progress on the game floor will be put on hold for at least the next five games as December 19th against Long Beach State is the earliest Terrell could return based on the school's finals schedule.

"He's a senior captain. He is our most athletic player. He averaged double figures last year," Enfield said. "He was a starter, so it definitely hurts us…we need him. We're hoping he's back after the first semester."

Fans should expect Terrell to possibly return to the sidelines on December 29th against Howard, which would be USC's last home game of the preseason before opening Pac-12 play on the road at UCLA.

GAME NOTES

The game never felt fully intact until the final three minutes but the Trojans (4-1) were able to start the Battle 4 Atlantis in winning fashion by defeating West Alabama 73-57 behind a team-high 15 points from leading scorer Byron Wesley.

Enfield's starting lineup featured Pe'Shon Howard, Julian Jacobs, Wesley, Nikola Jovanovic and Omar Oraby against USC's first Division II opponent since playing former NCAA program Augusta State back in 1991.

The Trojans cleared out the entire bench tonight as 14 players took the floor, even giving walk-on contributors Devon Pflueger, Samer Dhillon and Daniel Munoz minutes for the first time this season.

USC started the game red hot from the field, assisting on each of its first six baskets from the field. The Tigers kept things close for most of the first half thanks in large part to 15 first-half points from senior forward Sandy Underwood, but the Trojans were able to extend their halftime lead to 20 points thanks to a 15-4 run in the final seven-plus minutes.

The Tigers came out shooting the lights out from behind the arc to start the second half (6-for-7) cutting the lead down to 11 with 6:36 to play in the game. After blowing out Cal State Northridge in the home opener, USC has struggled to put teams away and that reared its ugly head once again on Thursday night.

Leading by eight points with four minutes to play, freshman forward Jovanovic blocked a Tigers shot under the basket, which ultimately swung the game in the Trojans favor. Howard found Jacobs flying backdoor for the emphatic alley-oop slam, pushing the lead back into double figures to secure their fourth-straight victory.

NEXT UP ON THE DOCKET

The Trojans continue the Battle 4 Atlantis with Villanova next up on the schedule, in a tournament that also features possible matchups with Kansas or Wake Forest along with an intriguing game against former USC coaches Tim Floyd and Bob Cantu, who now serve in coaching roles with UTEP.

"It's gonna be a very good challenge to see how much we have grown since the start of the season," said Oraby.

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