GAME NOTES: The USC Trojans play the third of four straight games at the Galen Center tonight, as they entertain the Cal State Fullerton Titans.
USC, which has West Alabama coming up two nights from now in the final game of the homestand, has won the first two in this run after losing the season opener on the road at Utah State (78-65). The most recent victory under new head coach Andy Enfield came last Friday night in a 67-63 decision over Northern Arizona.
Like USC, the Titans are also 2-1 after three games. The one defeat came against Seattle (75-71) on the road last week, but Fullerton bounced back with an 86-73 triumph versus Santa Clara on Saturday.
The Trojans lead the all-time series by a count of 3-0, with an 81-54 victory in the most recent matchup coming in 2010.
The Fullerton defense went to work against Santa Clara the last time out, holding the visitors to just 29.4 percent shooting from the floor in the first half, but still the Titans led by only six points at the break before going on for the double-digit victory. Alex Harris led the way with 19 points, Michael Williams tacked on 15, to go along with six rebounds and five assists, followed by Josh Gentry and Marquis Horne with 13 points apiece.
After three games, Harris is leading the Fullerton offense with 17.7 ppg as he shoots 52.6 percent from the floor and an impressive 47.1 percent behind the 3-point line. Because of Harris, who has knocked down close to three triples per contest, the Titans are shooting collective 42.6 percent out on the perimeter. The unit is also connecting on an impressive 50.6 percent from the floor, compared to just 38.7 percent for the competition.
USC missed all 10 chances behind the 3-point line in the first half of the meeting against NAU, leaving the hosts with a 40-30 deficit at the break. In the second half the Trojans worked hard at the defensive end in order to hold the visitors to just nine made field goals, en route to the slim win. Shooting 11-of-16 from the floor and 8-of-12 at the free-throw line, Byron Wesley was the only USC player in double figures as he dropped in 31 points, adding nine rebounds for good measure.
Playing in excess of 33 minutes per game, Wesley not only leads the Trojans in scoring with his 20.7 ppg, he is also first in rebounds (9.3 rpg), so clearly it would be smart for him to remain in the paint and not on the perimeter where he is shooting only 1-of-7 entering the week. Omar Oraby checks in with 13.3 ppg and another 7.3 rpg as he shoots better from the field (.737) than he does at the free-throw line (.632).
As long as the Titans can keep tabs on Wesley and force the rest of USC to beat them tonight, the visitors have a chance at scoring their first-ever win over the Trojans.
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