The Trojans ended a three-game losing streak and eclipsed their previous season-high of 66 total points in a 83-59 victory over Texas Christian University on Monday.
Everything may supposedly be bigger in Texas, but nobody on TCU (7-4) could stop the smallest player on the court. Five-foot-seven sophomore guard Maurice Jones bobbed and weaved his through the Horned Frogs’ defense, on the way to a game-high 25 points and seven assists, including 18 points in the opening half.
“I love how [Jones] controlled the game,” said USC basketball coach Kevin O’Neill. “He made it easier for everybody else. If he does that, we will have a chance to win games.”
Three other players scored in double figures, including freshman guards Alexis Moore and Byron Wesley. Moore, who was named the USC Credit Union Student-Athlete of the Week after scoring a career-high 18 points against Georgia, finished with 12 points. Wesley recorded 13 points and racked up six assists.
“The thing that allows [Jones] to play like that is [Moore and Wesley] playing better,” O’Neill said. “They were more aggressive offensively.”
After scoring more than 60 points just once in their previous four games, the Trojans finally fell into a smoother offensive rhythm. USC finished the game shooting 50.9 percent, including 47.1 percent from beyond the arc, although only 63.3 percent from the free throw line. Defensively, USC forced 20 turnovers–compared to five for TCU–and recorded eight steals.
“I hope this gives our guys more confidence going forward,” O’Neill said. “You can only play so many games where you play great defensively and come up short.”
Sophomore forward Dewayne Dedmon scored 14 points–the same amount he scored in his previous three games combined. Junior forward Aaron Fuller added nine points and 11 rebounds.
The Trojans scored the first five points of the game, but only converted one of their first five free throw attempts. They went into the locker room leading 42-33 at the half.
USC did not let up in the second half, scoring the first five points after halftime, and extended the lead to as many as 28.
The team will next play host to No. 12 Kansas.
“We have lost so many close games,” Wesley said. “We need this win against Kansas.”
Last year, USC nearly upset the No. 3 Jayhawks on the road. Trailing by one point, guard Jio Fontan stepped out of bounds with 6.4 seconds remaining, preventing the Trojans from attempting one final shot. Kansas (7-3) is coming off of a loss against Davidson College on Monday.
“They are going to be pissed,” O’Neill said. “I was hoping that they would win coming in, but that is the way it is.”
Jayhawk team leader and junior forward Thomas Robinson is averaging 17.8 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. Second-leading scorer Tyshawn Taylor, a senior guard who averages 15.9 points per game, had arthroscopic knee surgery on Dec. 11, but played against Davidson and will likely suit up against USC.
USC will tip off against Kansas at 8 p.m. on Thursday at the Galen Center.