GAME NOTES: The USC Trojans continue a three-game homestand to begin the 2012-13 season, as they welcome the Long Beach State 49ers to the Galen Center.
The Trojans are seeking a 2-0 start for just the third time in the last 12 seasons, following an 87-73 victory over Coppin State in the season-opener on Friday. USC brings an experienced core back this year, with 12 upperclassmen with a combined 326 career Division I starts, including four starters from a year ago.
The 49ers also opened the 2012-13 season with a win, topping North Alabama 75-65 at the Walter Pyramid on Saturday. Long Beach State returns just one starter, but has been fixture atop the Big West for the last couple of seasons. The 49ers were picked to win their third straight league crown this year.
The Trojans hold a 7-5 advantage in the series, thanks to three straight wins by USC. LBSU's last victory in this series took place in 1999.
The 49ers may lack a heavy veteran presence, but lone returning starter James Ennis did enough in the season-opener to lead the team to victory, hitting 6- of-10 shots from the floor and 7-of-9 from the free-throw line to finish with 19 points. Deng Deng and Kris Gulley netted double figures as well, with 11 points apiece. Long Beach State shot a decent .450 from the floor, while limiting North Alabama to a mere .349 effort. The 49ers won the battle on the boards, 36-24. LBSU was able to force 23 turnovers in the game, almost erasing an eye-popping 26 miscues of its own.
Byron Wesley and J.T. Terrell led the Trojans with 17 points each and Dewayne Dedmon hauled in a career-high 12 rebounds, as USC won its season-opener against Coppin State. With the win, USC is now 43-9 in the last 52 home openers. The Trojans will look a little different in 2012-13, with the return of injured players like Jio Fontan and talented transfers like J.T. Terrell (formerly at Wake Forest), Eric Wise (UC Irvine) and Ari Stewart (Wake Forest). Wesley is the only player returning that started all 32 games last year.
Long Beach State is a solid mid-major program with the ability to win on the road, as evidenced by their big win last season at Pittsburgh. However, the Trojans are set to make a move up the Pac-12 ladder this year. USC may not be ready to win the conference crown, but should be much more competitive.
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