USC Basketball: Wise Nets Double-Double As Trojans Rout Long Beach State
The Trojans clamped down defensively in the second half Tuesday night to run away to a 62-44 victory over the 49ers in a non-conference tilt. The win pushed USC's record to 2-0 to start the season for just the third time in 12 years. The 49ers are still searching for their first victory against the Trojans since 1999.
"We beat a team that used to always beat us at Irvine," said Wise, referring to his past conference encounters against The Beach, while playing for UC Irvine. "We put more pressure on the ball and made them take tougher shots in the second half."
The Trojans held LBSU (1-1) to just 5-of-23 shooting in the second half and 29 percent shooting for the entire game. The home team also received strong outings from its backups as USC's bench outscored the 49ers' reserves, 23-3.
"I liked how our team played on both ends tonight," Trojans head coach Kevin O'Neill said. "Only 11 turnovers against an athletic, very good team. We had a lot of good performances from a lot of guys."
The 6-foot-6 Wise, who played three seasons with UC Irvine, paced a trio of Trojan transfers in double-figures as he poured 10 points and pulled down 12 rebounds in the winning effort. Former Wake Forest players J.T. Terrell and Ari Stewart also provided the scoring punch by chipping in 10 points apiece.
The Beach tied the game 35-35 in the second half on a Mike Caffey free throw before USC cracked open a 23-4 run to build a 19-point lead. The 49ers went nearly 16 minutes without a field goal until a James Ennis reverse layup ended the drought with 42 seconds remaining in regulation.
Caffey, a sophomore, carried the 49ers' offense with 17 points, but was held to 4-of-14 shooting. Ennis, the lone returning starter for the 'Niners from last season's NCAA tournament team, added 13 points and five rebounds, but committed five turnovers.
Trojans starting guard Jio Fontan had five points and four assists (1-of-7 shooting) in 25 minutes as he continued to play his way back into game shape. Fontan missed the entire 2011-12 season with a left ACL injury. O'Neill said the 6-foot-tall senior is at full strength, but still had to work off the rust from a long layoff.
"I think he is 100 percent," O'Neill said. "The speed of the game, when you haven't played for a year and a half, catches up to you a bit."
USC took a 29-24 lead into halftime thanks to 11 points off 12 LBSU turnovers. Overall, the the Trojans produced 21 points off 18 'Niner giveaways.
"I thought we tried to attack a little bit early in the shot clock a couple times," O'Neill said. "After that we settle down, locked in and did our job down the stretch."
The Trojans will travel to Hawaii and face Illinois in the first game of the Maui Invitational on Nov. 19. They return to Galen Center to play No. 25 San Diego State on Sunday, Nov. 25 at 7 p.m.
Follow more of Neon Tommy's USC basketball coverage here.