GAME NOTES: The USC Trojans return home to the Galen Center for a two-game homestand starting on Sunday with a non-conference bout versus the Boston College Eagles.
Boston College participated in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday night, falling at Purdue, 88-67, to snap a modest two-game win streak. The Eagles have not gotten off to a flying start this season, as they have won just three of their first eight games.
As for USC, it has opened its campaign under first-year head coach Andy Enfield with a 5-3 mark, which includes wins in all four of its home contests. The Trojans most recently traveled to the Bahamas to participate in the Battle 4 Atlantis, and after losing to Villanova (93-79) and Wake Forest (77-63) in the early rounds, they salvaged the trip with an 84-78 win over Xavier in the seventh-place game.
The Trojans defeated the Eagles in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament, 72-55, to improve to 2-0 in the all-time series.
The Eagles were overmatched by Purdue from the opening tip in their latest game, as they were outshot from the floor, 52.2 percent to 37.9 percent, and lost the turnover battle, 13-8, en route to the 21-point setback. Ryan Anderson led the way with 16 points, while Olivier Hanlan added 15 points and eight rebounds, although he was just 6-of-15 from the field. Alex Dragicevich chipped in 13 points to the losing effort. Scoring points isn't typically Boston College's problem, as it shoots greater than 46 percent from the field for 78.2 points per game, but it unfortunately allows 80.9 points per tilt to the opposition. The club has a pair of top-notch scoring options in Hanlan (20.9 ppg) and Anderson (18.6 ppg, 6.9 rpg), and both sink better than 83 percent of their free throws. Joe Rahon is also off to a stellar start, scoring 12.1 points per game on 14-of-36 accuracy from 3-point range.
The Trojans were able to outlast Xavier in their Battle 4 Atlantis finale on Sunday by shooting an impressive 49.2 percent from the field, which included an 8-of-19 showing from 3-point range, while forcing the Musketeers into 19 turnovers. Pe'Shon Howard was the catalyst, as he not only scored a game-high 23 points, but he got his teammates involved with seven assists. Julian Jacobs stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, seven assists, seven rebounds and three steals, Bryon Wesley netted 15 points, and Nikola Jovanovic contributed 12 points and eight rebounds in a reserve role. The transition to Enfield's up- tempo style has resulted in 75.2 points per game for USC on 45 percent field goal efficiency, although it allows nearly the same amount of points at the other end (73.5). Wesley is the top scoring threat with 17.6 points per game, and the hope is that number will go up if he can improve upon a lackluster 3- point percentage (.211). Howard (11.4) and Omar Oraby (10.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3.0 bpg) have also been solid, as has J.T. Terrell (10.0 ppg), although he has been ruled academically ineligible for the remainder of the fall semester.
As expected, there's been some growing pains for the Trojans in their first year under Enfield, but they have played very well at home, and against an inconsistent Boston College squad, USC should find a way to move to 5-0 at the Galen Center.
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