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USC routs Texas Christian, 83-59

USC BASKETBALL

The Trojans snap a three-game losing streak and earn their first win of the season against a team with a winning record.

December 19, 2011|By Baxter Holmes

The Galen Center scoreboard should have short-circuited Monday night. Electric signals buzzed the board's way with a lightning-like frequency that hadn't been seen since last season.

No, neither of the local NBA teams that had used it in recent days for scrimmages were playing here. They were up the street in their usual haunt, trading much-anticipated baskets.

It was the building's usual tenant — USC — that put on an offensive exhibition, an unexpected show considering the Trojans' offensive shortcomings this season.

But for a night, USC stuffed the stat sheet and the Trojans routed Texas Christian, 83-59, to snap a three-game losing streak before a crowd of 3,208 and earn their first win of the season against a team with a winning record. TCU fell to 7-4.

"If shots go in, it always makes you look better," USC Coach Kevin O'Neill said.

It marked a season high in points for USC (5-7). Its previous season high was 66, which it reached in its season-opening win against Cal State Northridge.

Unlike some of its past games, USC played with force from start to finish.

"We started off the game aggressively, with energy, and everybody feeds off that," said center Dewayne Dedmon, who scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds.

It worked.

USC scored more points in the first half (a season-high 42) and second (41) than it had in whole games this season.

Sophomore guard Maurice Jones was dynamic, with 25 points, including 18 in the first half, and seven assists, many of them dazzling no-look passes.

"Mo's a real talented player, and when he starts making shots, it opens it up for the rest of us," said freshman guard Byron Wesley, who scored 13 points and had six assists.

USC shot 51% from the floor, a healthy percentage it hadn't neared in the last three games.

The Trojans also had a season-high 17 assists and a season-low five turnovers. And they scored 24 points off 20 TCU turnovers and dominated down low, with 36 points in the paint, 20 more than TCU.

USC led by nine at halftime and it started the second half with a 19-9 run to take a 61-42 lead with 12 minutes 42 seconds left.

The Trojans kept coming, and instead of a nail-biting heart-breaker — USC has lost five games by seven points or fewer — they got to enjoy a dominating win.

"We've lost so many close games, and [O'Neill] told us we're that close, so coming out with a big win before a big game Thursday just brings us closer," Wesley said.

Thursday is when USC faces No. 12 Kansas, which was upset by unranked Davidson, 80-74, on Monday.

"I feel like we need and we can definitely get the win," Wesley said of Kansas.

baxter.holmes@latimes.com

twitter.com/baxterholmes

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