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Point guard Maurice Jones seen as USC's leader

USC BASKETBALL FYI

The Trojans play host to Cal Poly on Saturday at the Galen Center. The Mustangs will be without 6-foot-4 guard Chris O'Brien and freshman guard Reese Morgan, who are injured.

November 18, 2011|By Diane Pucin
  • USC guard Maurice Jones brings the ball up court against Nebraska during a nonconference game on Monday at the Galen Center.
USC guard Maurice Jones brings the ball up court against Nebraska during… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

Joe Callero, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo's basketball coach, has noticed these things about USC:

"It's clear to me that little point guard Mo Jones, he's the head of the snake, he's the wheeler-dealer. He can shoot it, score it, make key plays. And they've got good depth."

The Mustangs (1-1) play the Trojans (1-2) at the Galen Center on Saturday and Callero, whose team finished a strong second in the Big West Conference last year and returned four starters, wishes the team he had two weeks ago was the one he will have against USC.

Two weeks ago, Chris O'Brien, a 6-foot-4 guard from Irvine Northwood High, sustained a torn knee ligament that ended his season. Four days ago, Reese Morgan, a freshman guard from Palos Verdes Peninsula High, hurt his knee, requiring surgery. He's out four to six weeks.

Callero said Morgan was a key player in Cal Poly's win over San Jose State and he was missed in a recent two-point loss to Cal State Bakersfield.

USC Coach Kevin O'Neill said that from watching film he is impressed with Cal Poly's zone defense. "That would be a challenge for anybody," O'Neill said.

Even though the Trojans are coming off consecutive close losses to Nebraska and San Diego State, O'Neill said he has seen progress.

"I'm excited where we are defensively," he said, "and we're going to have to get a little better finishing games."

It was not a surprise that O'Neill picked up on the Cal Poly defense.

"When our newcomers play the match-up well, we look really good," Callero said. "When they break down, we look poor and not very solid. Kevin runs a variety of sets to get guys in scoring position. If we're doing a good job, we'll limit our real bad breakdowns."

diane.pucin@latimes.com

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