It wasn’t pretty, but the USC Trojans won their season opener for the fourth consecutive season, coming away with a 66-59 victory over Cal State Northridge on Friday night.
Despite holding the Matadors to 25 percent shooting from the floor, the Trojans could never take full control of the game, thanks to 19 turnovers and missing all 15 of their 3-point attempts.
USC coach Kevin O’Neill has been adamant in his stance that the Trojans will only be as good as sophomore point guard Maurice Jones this season, and that was evident in the first game of the year. Jones didn’t have his best offensive game, as he made just one of his first 12 shots. But when Northridge clawed their way back from a 13-point deficit to take a 54-52 lead with less than four minutes remaining, Jones converted a three-point play to give the Trojans a 55-54 lead, which they would not relinquish. Jones went on to score eight of USC's final 12 points.
The bright spots for USC were the three big men. Aaron Fuller (16 points, nine rebounds), Dewayne Dedmon (16 points, eight rebounds, three blocks) and James Blasczyk (five points, six rebounds) were all solid in their first minutes as Trojans.
As for the freshmen, Byron Wesley found ways to contribute across the board, with five points, eight rebounds, three assists and a steal. Alexis Moore would probably like to shake off his first performance, as he missed all seven of his 3-point attempts, but did convert a late basket on his way to six points and four rebounds.
It likely won’t make any highlight reels, but Friday’s victory was a good first step for a very young USC team that played just two players who saw any minutes at all last season. USC will be back at the Galen Center on Monday, with a 7:30 p.m. game against Nebraska.