There wasn't a dramatic turning point or a singular standout performance for the USC men's basketball team Tuesday night at the Galen Center.
But there was a victory.
The Trojans (2-0) were steadier with the basketball, smarter with their shot selections and came away with a 62-44 victory over Long Beach State (1-1).
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday, November 15, 2012 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 39 words Type of Material: Correction
College basketball: An article in the Nov. 14 Sports section about USC's 62-44 men's basketball victory over Long Beach State said that freshman Chass Bryan made two consecutive three-point baskets in the second half. The shots were two-point baskets.
The most rousing play was the seldom-seen USC fastbreak that was finished with a Dewayne Dedmon dunk that gave the Trojans a 58-39 lead with 4 minutes 23 seconds to play.
As a demonstration of the even performances by the Trojans, they had a trio of leading scorers, with Eric Wise, J.T. Terrell and Ari Stewart each accounting for 10 points.
Mike Caffey had a game-high 17 points for Long Beach State.
The standout performance came from the USC defense. Long Beach State made only 12 field goals in 42 tries and USC Coach Kevin O'Neill said, "That's a really good team there. I like how we played at both ends of the court."
O'Neill was particularly happy with how the Trojans played everything in the final 15 minutes. With 15:02 to play, Caffey made a free throw to tie the score, 35-35.
"That's what we want to do, we want to wear guys out," said forward Eric Wise, whose jump shot broke that tie for good.
Wise said he didn't notice when the Trojans pulled away.
"Just gradually," he said.
Late in the first half, thanks to a trio of three-point baskets in less than a minute, USC had a 29-20 lead and it briefly felt as if a rout had begun.
First Stewart and then twice in a row Terrell made the long shots, but Long Beach State scored the final four points of the first half.
Forward Kris Gulley made a three-point basket and Dan Jennings made one free throw with 1:45 left in the first half to cut the Trojans' lead to 29-24.
Long Beach State was lucky to be within five points at halftime. The 49ers had 12 turnovers, but Caffey's 12 first-half points helped keep the visitors close.
And less than five minutes into the second half O'Neill was forced to call a timeout when Long Beach State drew to within 35-34 and USC point guard Jio Fontan shot an airball.
Whatever O'Neill told the Trojans worked long enough for them to move ahead, 42-35. Aaron Fuller's first basket of the game, a layup, gave USC a 40-35 lead and Byron Wesley rebounded a missed Fuller free throw for a seven-point lead.
Freshman Chass Bryan, a 5-foot-9 guard from Oaks Christian High, made consecutive three-point baskets to give USC a 48-37 lead with 10:33 left.
From there, Long Beach State just couldn't get any closer.