Coleman Helps Stop Trojan Collapse : College Basketball: He scores 26 points as USC holds off Prairie View A&M;, 77-70, in season opener.


USC's veteran, Ronnie Coleman, and the Trojans' newest comer, Harold Miner, opened the 1989-90 basketball season Monday with nearly two-thirds of the team's offense.

Coleman, the most valuable player of USC's basketball team for the past two seasons, tied his career high with 26 points as the Trojans held off Prairie View A&M;, 77-70, Monday night at the Sports Arena.

Miner, USC's freshman guard from Inglewood High, had 25 points.

"For a freshman, he played well," USC Coach George Raveling said of Miner. "I think he's got to play a lot smarter to make a substantial contribution. We probably gave them 10 points because he didn't rotate back on defense."

Coleman scored 20 points in the first half, but his poor second half mirrored the decline of the Trojans.

"In retrospect, I should have rested Coleman a little more," Raveling said. "I tend to be a risk-taker with him."

But Coleman said that he was well-rested in the second half. "I think I got a little complacent in the second half," Coleman said. "I think I was too relaxed."

Leading, 58-41, in the second half, the Trojans were in cruise control with Coleman on the bench.

But Prairie View pulled to 66-62, outscoring the Trojans, 21-8. They had a chance to close to within a basket, but Dwain Cunningham missed two free throws with 4:27 remaining.

USC, which had shot free throws poorly all night, made three of four free throws to take a 69-62 lead. Robert Pack made one of two free throws after a technical foul on guard Michael Ervin, and Miner made two free throws after he was fouled.

Panther center Steve Stevenson made a baseline shot over USC center Chris Munk and Lamar Holt hit a three-point shot to cut the deficit to 69-67 with three minutes left.

"I'm proud of the kids," Prairie View Coach Jim Duplantier said. "They were down 17, and they never quit. They fought hard all night. The bench stepped in and did a good job.

"I thought we played well on defense, but we were not patient at all. We missed several easy shots underneath that you have to make if you're going to win."

After Munk made a baseline jump shot, Stevenson responded with a five-footer.

But Coleman made a turnaround shot from the left baseline and Miner got a rebound after a miss by Holt. Freshman guard Robert Pack made two free throws with 1:15 remaining to give USC a 75-69 lead.

Ervin, who led Prairie View with 23 points, made one of two free throws to cut USC's lead to 75-70.

Pack made two free throws to give USC a 77-70 lead with 40 seconds remaining. And the Trojans hung on.

Coleman, who scored 26 points last season against Stanford, nearly matched it in the first half, leading the Trojans to a 44-32 advantage at intermission.

Coleman made nine of 11 shots from the field in the first half as the Trojans hit 59.4%. He also had 11 of USC's 22 rebounds in the first half.

The only thing he didn't do well was shoot free throws, missing two of six in the first half. He made only 55.1% from the line last season.

Coleman scored 12 of the Trojans' first 14 points. And he was also a force on defense, blocking two shots in the first half.

Unlike last season, when the Trojans had little scoring punch besides Coleman, they appear to have better depth.

Miner had 12 points in the first half and Chatman added five points, including a three-pointer.

Prairie View, which has all of its starters back from last season's team, started quickly, taking an 8-6 lead as Ervin scored the first eight points.

But USC outscored the Panthers, 36-19, over the next 13:43 to take a 42-27 lead.

Although Prairie View outrebounded USC, 26-22, in the first half, the Panthers didn't shoot as well as they rebounded, making 31.6% from the field.

Miner scored nine points in the first 7:10 of the second half as the Trojans took a 17-point lead.

USC Notes

USC opens its Pacific 10 Conference season Thursday night at Washington State. USC plays at Washington Saturday afternoon. . . . Robert Pack's 10 assists were the most by a Trojan since Dave Wiltz had 11 against Arizona State on Jan. 23, 1988. . . . Ronnie Coleman's 14 rebounds were one shy of his career high. . . . USC is 13-5 in season openers since 1973.

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