USC freshmen aren't just kidding around in men's basketball win over New Mexico State

Maurice Jones, generously listed at 5 feet 7, overshadows his fellow freshman teammates as the predetermined prize of USC's 2010 basketball recruiting class.

But Bryce Jones and Garrett Jackson are proving to be more advanced than once thought, and have each carved early roles as much-needed playmakers for the Trojans this season.

Bryce Jones, a guard from Woodland Hills Taft High, scored 21 points Sunday in USC's 80-61 drubbing of New Mexico State at the Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament in Springfield, Mass.

And Jackson, a forward from Oregon, added 10 points, five rebounds, two blocks and two steals to help USC (3-2) snap a two-game skid.

"The key to players like Bryce and Garrett is to become guys that are well-rounded players," USC Coach Kevin O'Neill said by telephone.

It seems like they already have, combining for 56 points, 11 rebounds, 10 steals and seven assists in USC's last two games.

Helped by their performances and that of junior forward Nikola Vucevic, who added 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists, USC's rout of the Aggies began just after tipoff.

The Trojans used a 13-0 run to lead, 17-5, and were up by 12 at halftime.

In the second half, Bryce Jones sparked a 7-1 run with a layup and a three-point jumper.

"I think the world of this guy," O'Neill said. "He has a great future."

The Trojans' lead reached 20 points midway through the second half. They shot 50% (29 for 58).

The win followed two losses, including a one-point defeat Saturday in the final second against Bradley.

USC has better attacked zone defenses in its last two games after moving the 6-foot-10 Vucevic out of the lane and into the high post. He has totaled 10 assists since then.

"It's really paid off for us," O'Neill said.

Maurice Jones, who played all 160 minutes of USC's first four games, played 39 against the Aggies, finishing with eight points, five rebounds, four assists and four turnovers before being taken out with 38 seconds left in the second half.

"I wanted him to rest up for the Cal State Fullerton game [Wednesday] when he's going to play 40 minutes again," O'Neill said, laughing.

Holmes reported from Los Angeles.

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