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USC Basketball "Knocked On Their Heels" In 63-47 Loss To Kansas

Michael Katz |
December 22, 2011 | 11:37 p.m. PST

Staff Writer

Maurice Jones was held to just seven points against Kansas. (Shotgun Spratling/File Photo)
Maurice Jones was held to just seven points against Kansas. (Shotgun Spratling/File Photo)
For a USC Trojans home game, there sure was an awful lot of blue in the stands at Galen Center on Thursday night.

Appropriately, the Trojans were feeling pretty blue after losing to the No. 11 Kansas Jayhawks 63-47 in a game that was ugly from the get-go and featured only one double-digit scorer for the Trojans.

It was a sluggish start that plagued the Trojans (5-8), who shot 23 percent from the field in the first half. Sophomore guard Maurice Jones was held to 1-of-7 in first half and had just three points. USC also turned the ball over 13 times in the first period and only had six points in the paint. They did not manage to score until more than three minutes into the first half.

When the halftime buzzer sounded, USC scored just 13 points, the lowest point total in a half in two-plus seasons under head coach Kevin O'Neill.

The second half did not start out much better for the Trojans, as they quickly found themselves down by 15. Jones left the game for a few minutes with an injured knee, but came back in and knocked down a three to bring the Trojans to within 12. However, it was not enough, despite Aaron Fuller's game-high 19 points. The Trojans shot 33 percent for the entire game. Outside of Fuller, the next closest player in total points was Jones with his seven.

"They were hitting threes after threes," said Fuller after the game. "We're still young... we can't play the name that's on the [opposing] jersey. It was eye-opening."

(His postgame press conference can be seen below.)

Coach Kevin O'Neill expressed similar frustrations. "Aaron was really the only guy that was able to get a game together for us," said O'Neill. "We're not getting enough offensively on certain nights."

Kansas (8-3), meanwhile, shot 33 percent from the field in the first half and were led by Connor Teahan's seven points. Star guard Tyshawn Taylor was held to just five points while leading scorer and rebounder Thomas Robinson was held to just four points.

The Jayhawks got off to a quick start in the second half, though, extending their lead to 17 points with over 15 minutes left in the period. A pair of threes by Elijah Johnson and Taylor got the Jayhawks headed in the right direction out of the locker room.

Teahen sealed the game with consecutive three-pointers at the end, and led a rout that saw Kansas end up shooting 42 percent from the field overall, including 50 percent from the field in the second period. Johnson led the Jayhawks with 14 points. Overall, Kansas outscored the Trojans 14-2 on fast breaks.

O'Neill was not surprised by the USC's sluggish performance, though, as he knows his team has a lot of growing to do.

"For our guys to play against Kansas... I thought it was a little bit too much for us at this stage," said O'Neill. "I thought our guys were lethargic, kinda got knocked on their heels a little bit. We really don't have a ton of leadership.”

O'Neill said that the team's 13 first-half turnovers were a key reason why the Trojans were never able to close the gap completely.

"I think the turnovers killed us more than anything. It's frustrating," said O'Neill. "It's hard to keep playing good defense when you just can't get anything going [on offense]."

Coach O'Neill does not believe that the loss is a sign of things to come for the entire season, though, relaying the fact that he has seen his fair share of lopsided losses and knows that with some growth, his team can get back on track.

"I've lost 98-50 at home. I’ve lost, I don't know, 55-22," O'Neill said. "Name it...I've been through all these."

O'Neill and his Trojans will try to get back on the winning side next Thursday, when they head to Berkeley, Calif. to take on the Cal Golden Bears at 6 p.m. PT.

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