USC beats West Alabama, 73-57, but will be missing J.T. Terrell
More notable than USC’s 73-57 beating of West Alabama on Thursday night at the Galen Center was an announcement before the game.
J.T. Terrell, who had led the Trojans with 20 points in their opening loss to Utah State and who led USC last year in Pac-12 Conference scoring, is ineligible for the rest of the fall semester because of academic reasons.
USC Coach Andy Enfield said it’s possible Terrell, a senior guard, could regain his eligibility as soon as the Long Beach State game Dec. 19, depending on when first-semester grades are posted.
Terrell will miss at least five games, including the trip to the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in Nassau, Bahamas, where USC (4-1) next plays Thanksgiving Day against Villanova.
“We’re hoping to get J.T. back after the semester,” Enfield said. Enfield said Terrell, a captain, is also not practicing with the team. Terrell was not at the game Thursday to comment.
Enfield said the Trojans will miss Terrell for as long as he is out. “He’s our senior captain, our most athletic player, a double-figures scorer last year, a starter,” Enfield said.
“But they have to be student-athletes. USC has an unbelievable academic support system. If he can’t succeed, it’s not USC’s fault, it’s your fault. I love the kid, but he needs to be a student-athlete.”
There was not much of a basketball game being played Thursday even without Terrell.
West Alabama, a Division II school, trailed USC 45-25 at halftime when three Trojans — Byron Wesley, Omar Oraby and Nikola Jovanovic — each had nine points and walk-on Devon Pflueger played three minutes.
Wesley finished with a team-high 15 points to go with eight rebounds while Oraby had 13 points and eight rebounds and freshman Jovanovic ended up with 14 points and six rebounds.
The first-half highlight for the Tigers was the 15 points from forward Sandy Underwood, who hit seven of his first 12 shots. The second-half highlight for USC was when Oraby blocked a shot and chased the ball full speed to the other end of the court, almost getting the steal too. The ball trickled off his fingers, but the time he took forced the Tigers into a shot-clock violation.
When Trojans freshman Roschon Prince missed a dunk and Desmond Raymond hit a three, the USC lead was down to 62-54.
But the Trojans woke up long enough for point guard Pe’Shon Howard to hit freshman Julian Jacobs for a fastbreak dunk and shortly after that Wesley found Jovanovic for a fastbreak layup to put USC ahead 66-54 with 3 minutes 32 seconds left.
The Tigers ended up outscoring USC 32-28 in the second half.
“We lost some focus,” Enfield said of the desultory second half. “We missed lots of easy shots. When we play teams we are more athletic and bigger than, the only way they can beat us is at the three-point line and we let them make 11 threes.”
Oraby agreed with his coach about the second-half lapses.
“We have to do a better job in the second half of not relaxing,” Oraby said. “Against bigger teams, better teams, it won’t be easy if we let teams back in the game.”
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