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USC routs Cal State Northridge but faces a big challenge

USC forward Chimezie Metu, shown during a game last season, had 15 points and 11 rebounds in a win Sunday.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The schedule will immediately jump to another level for USC on Thursday when the Trojans face Wichita State, the 20th-ranked team in the Associated Press top-25 poll.

USC will take a 4-0 record into that game against the Shockers after the Trojans throttled Cal State Northridge, 96-61, Monday night at Galen Center.

Though the Trojans are off to their best start since beginning the 2000-01 season 8-0, they know that playing Wichita State in the AdvoCare Invitational in Orlando, Fla., will be a bigger test than the first four games.

USC averaged 92.5 points per game in its first four games and won by an average of 23 points.

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“We just came out the last few games and really dominated and just did everything that we practiced in the off-season and put that together,” said Katin Reinhardt, who had 17 points for USC on six-for-nine shooting, including five for eight on three-point shots.

“I think it’s going to give us good confidence knowing that we’re playing good basketball, good team basketball going into that tournament out there, which is going to be a great tournament.”

The Trojans had four players score in double figures against the Matadors, led by Jordan McLaughlin’s 20 points on seven-for-10 shooting, four for five on three-pointers. McLaughlin also had six assists.

Nikola Jovanovic had 10 points and 10 rebounds, guard Julian Jacobs had career highs in rebounds (11) and assists (10), and Bennie Boatwright had 12 points.

The Trojans shared the basketball, handing out 26 assists.

They shot the ball well from long distance, making 43.3% (13 of 30) of their three-point shots.

They began their rout over the Matadors, who were led by Jason Richardson’s 18 points, in the first half by opening a 27-point lead.

USC’s lead grew and grew and grew until it reached a whopping 36 points in the second half.

“We played hard and well,” Coach Andy Enfield said. “I’m happy to be 4-0. We realize how challenging this Orlando tournament is going to be and we’re looking forward to it.”

Wichita State is 2-1, but the Shockers were 30-5 last season and advanced to the NCAA round of 16.

They have three starters back from that team and nine lettermen.

It is a game against a quality opponent the Trojans said they are looking forward to playing.

“I think these four wins are a good boost for us,” Jovanovic said. “Now we’re going to go to a really serious tournament in Orlando to play very good teams. And I think it’s going to show where we’re at.”


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