Trojans hope to improve anemic offense
Brimming with inexperience, the USC menâs basketball team has struggled to establish its offensive identity thus far. Through seven games, the Trojans (3-4) have averaged 57.1 points per game average â a drop from its 66.2 points per game average a season ago.
âI think offensive consistency is going to come with experience,â USC coach Kevin OâNeill said. âThe fact of the matter is we lost 90 percent of points, rebounds and assists [from last yearâs team]. Itâs tough to be great offensively when that happens. Itâs going to take a little bit of time.â
Aside from sophomore guard Maurice Jones and redshirt junior forward Aaron Fuller, who average 16.0 and 13.9 points per game respectively, the Trojans have received sporadic scoring contributions from their other players. USCâs third leading scorer, redshirt sophomore forward Dewayne Dedmon, at 7.7 points per game, scored 15 points against South Carolina, but, in the three previous games, scored a total of nine.
âWe played a lot of good basketball at the Las Vegas Invitational,â OâNeill said. â[Dedmon] and [Fuller] fouled out in the UNLV game with seven minutes left when it was a two-point game. I thought we played well there, and had a big win against South Carolina. [Dedmonâs] improving, and hopefully he can become more of a scoring option for us.â
Imbued with confidence after salvaging a .500 record at the Las Vegas Invitational, the USC menâs basketball team heads to Riverside tonight to square off against UC Riverside (2-4) at 7 p.m. UC Riverside, on Sunday afternoon, rallied to erase a 14-point, second-half deficit against Washington State to win 64-63.
âUC Riverside is coming off a big win against Washington State,â OâNeill said. âTheyâre a team thatâs very well-coached. Weâre playing at their place. In college basketball, when youâre on the road anywhere, itâs going to be a tough game.â
Senior guard Phil Martin leads UC Riverside in scoring, averaging 14.3 points. The Highlandersâ calling card, however, is their defense, as they allow just 58.8 points per game.
As usual, USC will rely heavily on Jones, who was named Pac-12 Player of the Week on Monday after averaging 19 points and three assists in three games.
â[Jones] is a guy who would rather play off the ball than on the ball,â OâNeill said. âBut, with [Fontan] out, heâs forced to play all of the minutes with ball in his hand. Whatâs going to be important is that [Jones] develops as a young player. Heâs still a sophomore. The more he steps up offensively, the better weâre going to be.â