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USC gets a victory in season opener at the Galen Center

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Image Credit: AP Photo/Danny Moloshok via ESPN

Taj Gibson had 17 points, DeMar DeRozan had 14 points and Dwight Lewis led USC scoring with 18 points as USC rolled over UC Irvine today at the Galen Center

A year ago, USC lost its opener to Mercer, with Mayo scoring 32 points on 27 shots in his college debut. DeRozan scored 14 on 6-of-11 shooting from the field.

"I was comfortable out there," the 6-foot-6 freshman guard out of Compton High said. "I just wanted to execute the plays."

That meant spreading the ball, which USC did. Four Trojans scored in double figures and not one took more than 12 shots to do so.

"I think unselfishness helped us get this win," guard Dwight Lewis said. "At times we leaned on him (Mayo) a little bit too much last year."

Lewis, who had a game-high 18 points and seven rebounds, appeared to be one a few players with more opportunities in Mayo's absence.

"We think he's our most improved player," Floyd said. "Seven rebounds is something he wouldn't have done a year ago."

It would appear that by reading numerous stories on this game that SC has turned a corner in how they will approach their season. Yes, DeRozan will be a star but with a more balanced and experienced team you can see that tey won't have to rely rely on just one guy like they did with Mayo last season.

SC was a little shaky in the first half but they really got it together in the 2nd half as they put together a 23-7 run.

Of course the DeRozan comparisons to Mayo are already taking place.

DeRozan arrives as a newcomer with the ability to immediately make an impact on the program.

The McDonald's All-American forward averaged 29.2 points as a senior at nearby Compton High. He cracked the starting lineup Saturday, going 6-of-11 from the floor, making both his free throws and grabbing three rebounds.

"It was exciting," DeRozan said. "I didn't want to rush nothing. I wanted to let the game come to me. My time will come."

Floyd couldn't pick one player over the other in comparing Mayo and DeRozan.

"O.J. is a great jumpshooter," he said. "DeMar is a guy who's filling the wings on the break. He's a great finisher. They both have been givers defensively."

With four players in double figures and well-balanced rebounding, DeRozan realizes the load isn't all on him anymore.

"Through high school I always had pressure on me to do a lot," he said. "I don't have to exert myself. The biggest thing I learned is it's fun when we play as a team. Everything will come easy to you if you play as one."

I think DeRozan will fit in just fine.

Hopefully we will here about the availability of Alex Stepheson next week as SC takes on a good New Mexico State team. His addition on the floor could go a long way to getting things going.