The USC men’s basketball team traveled to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, looking to continue their four-game winning streak out of the country. But that hope would be extinguished quickly, with the Trojans suffering a 94-79 loss to Villanova and a 77-63 defeat to Wake Forest. USC would, however, secure seventh place in the eight-team tournament with an 84-78 win over Xavier on the final day.
Senior guard Pe’Shon Howard led the way for the Trojans in the tournament, averaging 17.7 points, 3.3 assists, and 3.3 rebounds over the three-game stretch. Junior guard Byron Wesley averaged 14 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.
The tournament yielded action before any games even tipped off – head coach Andy Enfield and UTEP coach Tim Floyd had to be separated following a heated exchange at a welcome banquet. Floyd had accused USC in July of committing recruiting violations, after Isaac Hamilton rescinded his commitment from the Miners and instead chose to play at UCLA. Enfield had
“Tim Floyd shows up every day at work and realizes he lives in El Paso, Texas,” Enfield said in the December issue of Men’s Journal, setting the stage for the coaches’ confrontation. “And he’s pissed off that he didn’t get the USC job two months ago. I told him, ‘Tim, if I could have all this power to somehow convince a family to do this, why the heck didn’t the kid come last spring, when I first got the job?'”
The two coaches didn’t get the chance to realize their rivalry on the court, as USC and UTEP didn’t meet in the Battle 4 Atlantis. The Miners finished fourth in the tournament.
USC arrived in the Bahamas riding a four-game winning streak, all of which came at home, and appeared to be headed in the right direction under Enfield. Their hopes of beating Villanova, however, slowly dwindled from the start, as the Wildcats staked out an early lead and never trailed.
James Bell scored 17 points to lead five double-digit scores as the Wildcats (7-0), the eventual tournament champion, set a Battle 4 Atlantis record with 94 points. Howard led USC with a game-high 23 points and 3 steals, Wesley recorded 15 points and 10 rebounds, and freshman forward Roschon Prince added 13 points and 8 rebounds off the bench.
The loss set up a match against Wake Forest (6-2) in the consolation bracket, where a 41-25 halftime deficit proved too much for USC to overcome. Coron Williams led the Demon Deacons with 15 points, as the team shot 53 percent from the field. Wesley led the way with 12 points for the Trojans, which ran into trouble from behind the arc, missing 15 of their first 16 3-point attempts. Prince and Howard added 10 points each.
The Trojans were able to salvage their trip to the Bahamas on Saturday, picking up an 84-78 win over Xavier to clinch seventh place in the tournament. Howard scored 23 points for the second game in the tournament to go along with seven assists. Wesley finished with 15 points and seven rebounds, while freshman guard Julian Jacobs tallied 14 points, seven assists, seven rebounds, and three steals. USC took the lead during a 31-11 run over 12 minutes spanning both halves, then held off the Musketeers (5-3) to earn the win.
Semaj Christon led Xavier with 21 points, seven assists, and four steals. Myles Davis scored 16 points, while Matt Stainbrook added 14 points and six rebounds.
USC will look to stay undefeated at the Galen Center under Enfield, as they prepare to face Boston College (3-4) on Sunday at 4 pm.
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