By Diane Pucin
Here is what people have been expecting from the USC basketball team as coached by Andy Enfield, whose Florida Gulf Coast squad last season was nicknamed “Dunk City.”
With about seven minutes left Sunday in the Trojans’ game against Boston College, point guard Pe’Shon Howard found freshman Julian Jacobs, who slammed the ball home from about a foot above the basket.
Five Trojans scored in double figures as USC (6-3) won, 78-62, at the Galen Center, its second victory in a row.
The Trojans were led by Jacobs, who had 16 points and eight rebounds. Fellow freshman Nikola Jovanovic had 15 points and seven rebounds, Howard 14 points and four assists, Byron Wesley 12 points and five rebounds, and freshman Roschon Prince 14 points and five rebounds.
USC outrebounded Boston College, 44-27, a statistic that pleased Enfield.
“We had 13 offensive rebounds in the first half, 31 defensive rebounds in the second half,” Enfield said. “Those are pretty good numbers.”
The Eagles (3-6) and Trojans were tied at halftime at 32, but the second half belonged to the Trojans.
Wesley started out that half with a three-pointer, and Jovanovic followed up with a layup.
The Eagles drew within four on a layup by Eddie Odio, but after a timeout, Wesley responded with a 15-footer and Prince made two free throws to give the Trojans a 47-40 lead.
USC also made some improvement in its free-throw shooting. The Trojans had been averaging 64.3% a game, worst in the Pac-12, but hit 18 of 23 Sunday (78.3%). On the other side, Boston College had come here with the best free-throw percentage in the country (84.3%) but made only 60% against the Trojans.
USC had come home from the Battle 4 Atlantis with a win over Xavier in the final game, which gave them confidence. Howard, who had 23 points against Xavier, said losses to Villanova and Wake Forest in that tournament also taught them something.
“I think we were down 11-2 to Villanova right away,” said Howard, a fifth-year senior. “It was a punch in the mouth but we learned from that. There are no more slow starts. There are no more freshmen. We have to go out hard every game all the time.”
Eagles Coach Steve Donahue said that as opposed to USC, his players have been losing confidence.
“They were indecisive. We took a lot of threes, but not good ones,” Donahue said. “A month ago we were confident but we played a tough game at Providence and now I’ve got to get them back.”
Enfield was evasive when asked whether senior guard J.T. Terrell was making the academic progress he needs to become eligible again. “I love J.T. I know he’s had some struggles,” Enfield said. “We’re trying to help him stay motivated.”