The USC men’s basketball team looks to extend its four-game winning streak in international territory as it heads to Paradise Island in the Bahamas to compete in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament during Thanksgiving weekend.
USC will face Villanova on Thursday at 10 a.m. in the first round, followed by a game against either No. 2 Kansas or Wake Forest on Friday.
The Trojans (4-1) concluded a successful 4-0 homestand with a 73-57 win over West Alabama (1-3) shortly after finding out senior guard J.T. Terrell would be ineligible until at least Dec. 18 due to academic reasons. Junior guard Byron Wesley led the way with 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists, continuing his strong start to the season. Freshman forward Nikola Jovanovic added 14 points and six rebounds, while senior center Omar Oraby finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and four blocks.
Wesley leads the team with 19.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, while Oraby is averaging 13.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game.
USC entered halftime with a 20-point lead but encountered a slight scare when the Tigers used a bevy of 3-pointers to cut the lead to eight midway through the second half. The Trojans, however, stayed composed and pulled out their fourth straight win.
“We knew the only way they could beat us is from the 3-point line,” USC head coach Andy Enfield said. “They made 11. I give them a lot of credit. They came in, they had a game plan, they had some very good players and they had very good shooters.”
Villanova (4-0) also extended its winning streak to four games with an 84-80 win over Delaware on Friday. Forward JayVaughn Pinkston led the way with 26 points on 8-of-16 shooting and pulled down five rebounds. Guard James Bell added 16 points and seven rebounds, while guard Darrun Hilliard added 15 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
Pinkston is Villanova’s leading scorer with 20.3 points per game. Bell is averaging 18 points and seven rebounds per game this season, and Hilliard is averaging 14 points, five rebounds and 4.3 assists on the year.
“It’s going to be a very tough one to see how far we’ve come since the start of the season,” Oraby said.
No. 2 Kansas (4-0) looks to continue its momentum after an 88-58 win over Towson on Thursday and a 94-83 win over then-No. 4 Duke earlier in the season. The Jayhawks are led by forward Perry Ellis’s 16.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, while freshman sensation Andrew Wiggins is averaging 16.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game.
Wake Forest (5-0) ranks No. 2 in the NCAA in rebounds per game and is coming off an 82-54 win on Wednesday over Citadel. Guard Codi Miller-McIntyre leads the team in minutes (31.4 per game), points (18.6 per game) and assists (4.8 per game), while Devin Thomas is averaging 14.4 points per game and leads the team in rebounds per game with 11.6.
The Jayhawks and Demon Deacons will play each other after the conclusion of the Trojans-Wildcats contest.
USC will return to the Galen Center to take on Boston College (2-4) on Dec. 8 at 4 p.m., followed by a match against Cal State Bakersfield (4-1) on Dec. 15 at 7 p.m.
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