Looking for some formula to stem North Carolina’s run late in the first half of the Tar Heels’ eventual 97-65 win, USC Coach Henry Bibby had a lineup of the Trojans’ four newcomers, guards Gabe Pruitt, Dwayne Shackleford and Nick Young and forward Emanuel Willis, on the floor with senior power forward Jeff McMillan.
“I want to be able to keep going to my bench,” Bibby said. “I’m looking for them to be able to come through when I need them.”
Willis and Young had their own highlights late in the game, each freshman throwing down a dunk to quiet the crowd, if only for a moment.
USC’s 32-point defeat was its worst road loss since March 2, 2000, when the Trojans fell at Stanford, 111-68.
The Smith Center attendance of 19,995 marks the second-largest regular-season crowd USC has played before, trailing only the 27,610 that watched Syracuse beat the Trojans, 102-68, at the Carrier Dome on Nov. 29, 1985.
Bibby’s record in road-game openers fell to 2-7, his lone wins coming at Nevada Las Vegas in 1998 and at UC Santa Barbara in 2000.... North Carolina has won 72 of its last 74 home openers.
Tuesday at La Salle, 4 p.m. PST -- The Explorers, who have not had a winning season in 11 years, lost two of their best players, Gary Neal and Mike Cleaves, after a rape allegation this summer as well as their coach, Billy Hahn, who resigned in the aftermath. Under new coach John Giannini, La Salle has lost to James Madison, 59-50, and Hofstra, 79-69, in his first two games. The Explorers lead the series with USC, 3-1, with the Trojans winning the last meeting, 89-63, on Dec. 21, 2002.