In its season-opening loss at Western Michigan, USC had its most success dumping the ball down low to its frontcourt players, rather than its guards shooting wild jump shots.
Using that strategy to begin the second half of their home opener against Cal State Northridge, USC built a 15-point advantage en route to victory.
Is there any secret then in what USC will try to establish early and often tonight against a Nevada Las Vegas team that is missing its starting center and has only one player taller than 6 feet 8?
"In order to be a good team, you've got to start with the big men," point guard Derrick Craven said. "They're the focus of the whole thing. I've got confidence in all of them ... so I try to get them all involved."
USC may have only three eligible big men in junior center Rory O'Neil and junior power forwards Jeff McMillan and Nick Curtis -- center Jonathan Oliver is academically ineligible through the semester and forward Gregg Guenther is the starting tight end on the No. 2-ranked Trojans' football team. But the three have been delivering down low when given the chance, converting their high-percentage shots at a high percentage.
Combined, they are shooting 61.1% from the field, with O'Neil at 52.4% (11 of 21), McMillan at 66.7% (eight of 12) and Curtis having made all three of his shots, including a three-point basket.
The rest of the Trojans' guard-dominated lineup is shooting 36.1%.
"If we get the ball inside early, it works both ways because it will open up on the outside," Curtis said. "We have good guards who want to perform and take their guys off the dribble."
Said Coach Henry Bibby: "You want to establish an inside-out game.... Hopefully, we can go inside when we'd like to. Hopefully, we have perimeter people that play when we'd like to go outside. That's what we're looking to do."