Omar Oraby comes up big in USC’s victory

With every step he takes, with every dunk he makes, Omar Oraby is growing into a basketball star.

USC’s 7-foot-2 center played as if he was every inch of that Tuesday in the Trojans’ 76-62 win over Cal State Fullerton at the Galen Center.


Guard Byron Wesley continued his quiet dominance for USC, wiggling free for layups and leading the Trojans (3-1) with 22 points plus adding eight rebounds, but Oraby stood tall with his six blocked shots, nine rebounds and 15 points.

Wesley finally shut down any hopes the Titans (2-2) had with a driving layup and free throw with 6:55 left that put the Trojans ahead 67-53.

The Trojans led by 20 at halftime and Oraby led the way with 10 points and three blocked shots.

Eleven Trojans played, but J.T. Terrell, who had led USC with 20 points in its opening loss to Utah State, wasn’t one of them.

Even backup center D.J. Haley, who had made only one basket in USC’s first three games, had two in the first half, including a buzzer-beating hook shot at the end of the first 20 minutes.

According to USC Coach Andy Enfield, Terrell is continuing to “sort out academic issues,” which is why he didn’t play Tuesday and didn’t start for the third game in a row or play a second against the Titans.

“We have some decisions to make in the next couple of days as far as his eligibility,” Enfield said. “I love him, but he has to do what’s necessary to be a student-athlete. It’s nothing he’s done off the court.”

With attendance listed as 3,152, Enfield noted the empty seats, especially in the student section. “I know, we have to prove ourselves first,” he said. “You have to develop some kind of following and more people will show up.

“We’re going to keep playing hard, and hopefully attendance will increase.”

As for Oraby’s performance, Enfield said, “He’s virtually unstoppable when he gets the ball in the paint. Tonight he demanded the ball so we gave him the ball.”

USC essentially won the game in the first five minutes when the Trojans jumped to a 14-2 lead. Freshman Nikola Jovanovic started the game with a three-pointer for USC and it was a lead the Trojans never gave up.

The Titans had won at Montana State, not an easy place to play, and beat Santa Clara by 13 points, so there was a sense at the beginning that the Titans might hang close to the Trojans.

But Fullerton turned the ball over on four of its first five possessions and had an airball on the seventh. Michael Williams did hit a jump shot to make it 6-2.

Fullerton made only nine of its 24 field goals in the first half and was outrebounded by seven as well as having 10 turnovers to five for the Trojans.

Not that there was much hope for the Titans, but if there was, it seemed to end when Wesley and freshman Julian Jacobs hit back-to-back three-pointers to give the Trojans a 57-35 lead with 15:12 left in the game.

Fullerton got within 10 points, 57-47, when Marquis Horne swished a three-pointer with about 12 minutes left. Freshman Sheldon Blackwell came off the bench and led the Titans with 14 points.

Twitter: @mepucin