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Trojans Seeking Their First Win Tonight

December 03, 1987

The USC men's basketball team, which lost its first three games, all on the road, will play Seattle University in its home opener tonight at 7:30 at the Sports Arena.

Seattle is winless in two games, having lost to Western Baptist, 93-81, and Puget Sound, 84-58.

USC's losses were to North Carolina, 82-77, and Boston University, 75-53, in a tournament at Richmond, Va., and to Virginia Tech, 101-73.

"There are better ways to start a season with a young team than to have four of the first five games on the road," Coach George Raveling said.

USC, which has 10 new players and only four returnees, will play Wimp Sanderson's Alabama team, unbeaten in three games, at Birmingham, Ala., Saturday.

About tonight's game, Raveling said: "It will be great to get back to familiar surroundings and play in front of our fans. Seattle has a nice backcourt and a very experienced team. We haven't done a good job defending our opponents' guards. We need to improve or we'll continue to have problems."

Seattle's starting guards are Eric Briggs and Gerald Wright, both 6-foot seniors. In the Chieftains' opener with Western Baptist, Briggs scored 18 points and Wright 17.

Seattle's small front line consists of a 6-6 center, senior Tony Pope, and 6-5 forwards John King, a junior, and Eric Peterson, a sophomore who is averaging 12.5 points and 5.5 rebounds a game.

Although it lost, USC played well in its opener against North Carolina. Down by 10 points with 10 minutes to play, the Trojans closed to within two with six minutes left. USC sophomore guard Anthony Pendleton finished with 20 points, making 6 of 14 three-point shots. Senior swingman Brad Winslow had 16 points off the bench.

Against Boston University, the Trojans had 24 turnovers and made only 14 of 42 shots. One bright spot for USC was that, despite a personal tragedy, Andy Olivarez, a junior college transfer from Cypress College, scored eight points in only three minutes of playing time, making three of four shots and two free throws. Olivarez's father had died earlier in the day. Raveling offered to send Olivarez home to Whittier, but the junior guard said he wanted to stay with the team.

Against Virginia Tech, USC let a one-point halftime lead slip away.

"The best scenario I could see was coming out of that trip 2-1 and the worst I saw was 1-2," Raveling said Wednesday. "Obviously, I'm disappointed, but I take responsibility for what happened.

"We were poorly prepared mentally for the trip. . . . Also, there was too much emphasis on trying to beat North Carolina. We had such an emotional high after the North Carolina game, we expended it by the time we had to play Boston and Virginia Tech."

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