Jake’s Takes: USC 76, Cal State Fullerton 62

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November 20, 2013 by Jacob Freedman

The Trojans raced out to a 20-point lead, then left off the brakes in the second half as Cal State Fullerton closed the gap to 10 points. The sides then traded baskets for most of the half, and USC improved to 3-1 on the season and 3-0 at the Galen Center. Here’s some takeaways from the game:

Terrell In Timeout

J.T. Terrell was USC’s representative at Pac-12 Media Day and leading returning scorer, but hasn’t started since the opener and sat out the entire game tonight. He’s still having academic issues according to head coach Andy Enfield. Enfield said Terrell was eligible to play tonight, but said decisions will be made in the next few days about his eligibility in the short term. “JT’s a great kid and I love him, but he needs to do what’s necessary to be a student athlete,” Enfield said.

“J.T.’s such a talented scorer and all-around player,” said Byron Wesley, who had 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting. “I can’t do it all myself, but had some great contributions off the bench tonight.”

Read more about Terrell’s status HERE.

Hands-On Play

Once again, USC started Pe’Shon Howard and Julian Jacobs together. Both finished with season highs in points, with Howard scoring 11 to go with five assists while Jacobs nabbed 10 points to go with seven rebounds and five assists. The Trojans only had 4 steals in the box score, but both players swarmed the Titans early and forced five turnovers within the first four minutes. Both players are point guards, but are slowly learning to play off the ball and serve a better purpose: push the ball up court.

“As far as defense, we’re both pretty active, and whenever we get a rebound we do our best to push and play the system everyone wants us to,” Jacobs said. Howard likes to try his luck from the outside, and went 1-of-6 from threes tonight. Jacobs is more of a slasher, craftily finding ways to use his slim frame into the paint for a layup or to dish the ball back out. With Terrell out, expect to see the tandem continue to start.

Getting Sloppy

The Trojans looked active in the first half, finding open dunks and easy shots in the paint en route to a 45-25 lead. They had the doldrums, however, once the second half began. They shot 34.6 percent from the field after registering a 59.3 percent clip in the opening half, and had nine turnovers compared to five in the first half.

There was Roschon Prince overthrowing Byron Wesley on a pass under the basket, then missing a fast-break dunk a couple plays later. There was Omar Oraby fumbling a missed CSUF free throw out of bounds, then failing to box out his man on a different set of Titans free throws. And too often, USC pushing the ball resulted in said ball flying out of bounds or into an opponent’s hands.

With four of the five starters playing at least 30 minutes, fatigue is a factor. “Trying to stay in shape,” Jacobs said when asked the hardest part of running Enfield’s past-paced system. “It’s kind of hard to constantly be pushing the ball and playing defense at a high level. The hardest part is getting everyone to run with you…getting the bigs to run the floor. We need to clean up on the defensive glass.”

“They were driving the ball and we gave no resistance,” Enfield added on the second half struggles.

Upper-Class Performances

The veterans paced USC tonight, as the Trojan freshman all had their struggles. Wesley had 22 points after scoring 31 last Friday against Northern Arizona. He’s slashing, but also unafraid to take the three or mix it up down low. Despite playing 37 minutes, he had only one turnover.

“He’s not forcing bad shots, he’s shooting a high percentage, he has more assists than turnovers, and he’s rebounding the basketball,” Enfield said. “When you’re doing all those things and getting in a flow, you’ll do ok.”

Wesley isn’t the most vocal player, but he’s letting his play do the talking. So far, actions speak louder than words.

Oraby also had a solid night with 15 points and nine rebounds. He finished well at the rim, and went 7-of-10 on free throws after going 4-of-9 in the previous game.

“He’s virtually unstoppable when we get the ball into him in the paint,” Enfield said. “He gets fouled or scores. We can’t expect much more from Omar [on offense].”

News and Notes

  • Lakers guard and former USC star Nick Young was courtside at the game.
  • Former USC forward Dewayne Dedmon made his NBA debut for the Golden State Warriors on Monday. He’ll be in town Friday as the Warriors play the Lakers, but no word yet if he’ll make it to USC’s game against West Alabama Thursday night.
  • Announced attendance was 3,152, USC’s lowest total of its three home games so far.

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