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USC hopes to start a winning streak heading into conference play

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USC junior guard Jonah Mathews and the Trojans are looking for their second winning streak of the season.
(Shotgun Spratling / Los Angeles Times)

After snapping a four-game losing skid with a 91-49 rout of Southern Utah on Friday, the USC men’s basketball team hopes to start its second winning streak this season and creep above the .500 mark against UC Davis tonight at the Galen Center in its last tuneup before Pac-12 Conference play.

Coach Andy Enfield notched his 100th victory with the Trojans, and the 42-point win was USC’s biggest since beating Cal State Fullerton by the same margin (84-42) in last year’s season opener. The 49 points allowed were a season low and the Trojans also had a season-high 24 assists as everyone who played had at least two points.

Starting fast will be a key for the Trojans (6-6), who led for a total of 16:52 out of 170 minutes during their four-game slide but led for all but three and a half minutes in the Southern Utah game.

Bennie Boatwright finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season and sixth of his career. At 14.6 points per game, the senior is No. 2 on the team in scoring behind junior Nick Rakocevic (15.1), who had 21 versus the Thunderbirds.

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Sophomore forward Victor Uyaelunmo scored a career-best six points in Friday’s win while junior guard McKay Anderson, in his first game of eligibility, made his only shot for his first career points at USC.

Injuries continue to plague the Trojans. Freshman point guard Elijah Weaver missed Friday’s contest with a sore left ankle, which he sprained Dec. 15 against Oklahoma. Also unable to play were sophomore guard Charles O’Bannon Jr., who had left pinky surgery Nov. 13, and freshman guard Kevin Porter Jr., still recovering from a right quadriceps contusion.

USC enters tonight’s contest averaging 79.8 points, 15.8 assists, 38.6 rebounds, 6.7 steals and 3.6 blocks per game and will try to improve to 6-2 at home this season. A point of emphasis for Enfield’s team will be limiting turnovers, as USC averages 13.3 per game and its opponents commit 14.2 per game.

The reigning Big West Conference champion Aggies (3-9) are reeling, having lost two in a row and six of their last eight. They remain winless on the road at 0-6 but nearly pulled off a huge upset over Arizona in Tucson last Saturday before falling, 70-68.

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UC Davis is averaging 61.3 points per game, led by senior guard TJ Shorts II, who is averaging 14.3 points per game. He had a season-high 17 versus San Diego on Nov. 9 and scored nine points in Friday’s 77-59 loss at Loyola Marymount. Siler Schneider, another senior guard, scored 13 of his 19 points in the second half while junior center Matt Neufeld added 10 points against the Lions.

USC VS. UC DAVIS AGGIES

When: Sunday, 6 p.m. PST

Where: Galen Center

On the air: TV: PAC-12 Network; Radio: TUNEIN

Update: The Trojans close their nonconference schedule against a struggling Aggies team in search of its first road victory. It is the first ever meeting between the schools.


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