Following a disappointing 16-17 finish in 2018-19, youth is being served at USC where members of the school's vaunted freshman class accounted for 53 points in a season opening 77-48 victory over Florida A&M on Tuesday. The Trojans look to make it a 2-0 start when they host Portland on Friday night.
USC overcame a sluggish first half to outscore the Rattlers, 53-25, in the second half with freshman forwards Onyeka Okongwu and Isaiah Mobley leading the way. The long-armed 6-9 Okongwu scored a team-high 20 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and tied the school record with eight blocked shots while the 6-10 Mobley added 17 points, seven rebounds and two blocks as the Trojans improved to 21-4 in their last 25 home openers. "It was a good opening win," USC coach Andy Enfield said. "Onyeka has very good timing. He's a good defender, quick off his feet. He's relentless when the shot goes up. He has great skills, but it's his mentality. It was a pretty impressive debut, especially blocks and rebounds." Portland opened its season with a 86-36 home win over Williamette on Tuesday, snapping an 18-game losing streak.
TV: 11 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
ABOUT PORTLAND (1-0): The Pilots, who finished 0-16 in the West Coast Conference and 7-25 overall last season, jumped out to a 23-3 lead over the Division III Bearcats en route to a 49-16 halftime lead and had four players score in double figures. Junior guard Malcolm Porter, son of head coach and former NBA star Terry Porter, and 7-foot junior forward Jacob Tryon led the way with 13 points each with senior guard Isaiah White, a grad transfer from Maine, coming off the bench to score 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting in 12 minutes. The team's leading returning scorer, junior guard JoJo Walker, also scored in double figures (10 points) as the Pilots forced 21 turnovers and shot 49 percent from the field, including 10-of-26 from 3-point range.
ABOUT USC (1-0): Somewhat overlooked because of the stellar play of Okiongwu and Mobley was the play of freshman guard Ethan Anderson, the reigning L.A. City Section Player of the Year, who tied the USC freshman first-game record with seven assists to go along with four points and five rebounds. Senior forward Nick Rakocevic, a preseason first team All-Pac-12 selection, scored just four points and grabbed three rebounds before fouling out after playing 13 minutes while senior guard Jonah Mathews, who made 78 3-pointers last season, scored nine points but was 0-for-5 behind the arc. Freshman forward Max Agbonkpolo also played well in his debut going 3-for-3 from the field, including 1-for-1 from 3-point range, while scoring 10 points in eight minutes off the bench.
1. Okongwu became the first USC freshman to post a double-double in his debut since Taj Gibson in 2006
2. The Trojans finished with 12 steals against Florida A&M, matching the most they had in a game in the 2018-19 season.
3. Mathews needs 17 points and Rakocevic needs 31 to hit the 1,000-point mark in their USC careers.
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