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USC BASKETBALL FYI

Season-opening win provides a nice bounce

November 18, 2008|Gary Klein | Klein is a Times staff writer.

USC guard Dwight Lewis entered the Galen Center with an extra spring in his step Monday. For the first time in four seasons, the Trojans were reporting for a practice after a season-opening victory.

"I'm not going to lie, waking up on Sunday kind of felt good to know we won a home opener," said Lewis, a junior who had 18 points and seven rebounds in USC's 78-55 victory over UC Irvine. "But it's time to put that behind us now."

Lewis and the No. 19 Trojans began turning their attention to tonight's game against New Mexico State, the first of four games in six days for USC.

On Thursday, the Trojans play Seton Hall in the first round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off at San Juan, Puerto Rico. They will probably play No. 13 Memphis on Friday and either Virginia Tech, Xavier or Missouri on Sunday.

"We're probably, arguably, playing the toughest schedule in the country this week," USC Coach Tim Floyd said.

New Mexico State, coached by former USC assistant Marvin Menzies, features several former Southland high school players, including forward Troy Gillenwater (Simi Valley Stoneridge Prep), guard Jonathan Gibson (San Fernando Calvary Christian Prep) and center Chris Gabriel (San Juan Capistrano Serra). The Aggies defeated UC Riverside, 79-52, in their opener Saturday.

USC is hoping to be 2-0 when its departs for Puerto Rico after tonight's game.

"We'll know a lot more about our team after this week," Floyd said. "The whole element of playing back-to-back games gives you a lot of information in a short period of time."

Forward Alex Stepheson, a transfer from North Carolina, said he would not travel to Puerto Rico if the NCAA does not clear him to play by tonight. Stepheson said he would join the team if he were cleared before the tournament ended.

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gary.klein@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Tonight

vs. New Mexico State, 6

Site -- Galen Center.

Radio -- 710.

Records -- USC 1-0, New Mexico State 1-0.

Update -- The Trojans, ranked No. 19, will depart for a tournament in Puerto Rico after the game. New Mexico State defeated UC Riverside, 79-52, in its opener.

-- Gary Klein

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