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USC offense is a basket case

The Trojans are averaging only 54.2 points a game, 327th in the nation. As a result, their stellar defensive efforts have largely gone to waste during a 1-3 start.

November 21, 2011|By Diane Pucin
  • USC guard Byron Wesley, left, and Nebraska guard Dylan Talley battle for a loose ball during the Trojans' loss on Nov. 14. The Trojans' offensive struggles have played a key role in their slow start.
USC guard Byron Wesley, left, and Nebraska guard Dylan Talley battle for… (Bret Hartman / Associated…)

USC's basketball team has held its first four opponents to an average of 55.2 points and a shooting percentage of 31.3%.

In comparison, Florida State, an NCAA regional semifinalist a year ago, led the nation in field-goal percentage defense, harassing opponents into shooting just 36.3%.

So Final Four here we come, right, Trojans?

Not exactly.

USC is scoring an average of 54.2 points a game, which, headed into Monday's games, ranked the Trojans 327th out of 345 Division I schools in the country.

If it's any solace, that's not even the worst showing in Southern California. UC Riverside is tied for 329th in scoring, averaging 54.0 points. UCLA is tied for 269th, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo is 294th and UC Irvine is 295th. So Southern California college basketball fans can expect a lot of low-scoring games.

But the Trojans, whose defense Coach Kevin O'Neill has called "excellent" and "some of the best in the country," and "satisfying" and "about as good as it can be," still have lost three of four games.

"Looking at our defensive numbers, I'd say we should be 3-1 and not 1-3," O'Neill said. "But I always thought the offense would come along more slowly this year."

USC is shooting just 37.9% and Dewayne Dedmon, the Trojans' 7-foot redshirt sophomore center, got only one shot and was scoreless against Cal Poly in a 42-36 loss.

"The best way to get involved is to go get the ball," O'Neill said. "If you're 7 feet tall, go get the ball. He is a developing young player and it will take quite awhile for him to get where he needs to get."

Mo Jones, USC's point guard, was 1 for 11 shooting against Cal Poly, and O'Neill said most of Jones' shots were good ones. "Our problem is we have young players that don't understand a sense of urgency," O'Neill said.

After hosting winless Morgan State on Tuesday, USC will play Nevada Las Vegas and either North Carolina or South Carolina at the Las Vegas International tournament beginning Friday.

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