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At 2-0, Trojans basketball team is already ahead of the game

Normally a 2-0 start wouldn't be cause for excitement, but in Trojans' case, it means they're almost halfway to their win total of last season, when they finished 6-26.

November 18, 2012|By Diane Pucin
  • USC's Renaldo Woolridge, left, and J.T. Terrell during practice.
USC's Renaldo Woolridge, left, and J.T. Terrell during practice. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

It's only a 2-0 start, but considering the USC Trojans were 6-26 last year, being two games over .500 is an eye-opener.

"It's OK," Coach Kevin O'Neill said. "But I've told our team from the beginning to let our play do the talking. We have depth this year, we have a great leader in Jio Fontan and a lot of guys who have to prove themselves.

"But through two scrimmages and two games I like how we're playing."

The Trojans play their third game Monday against Illinois in the Maui Invitational (9 p.m. PST, ESPN2). Also in the tournament is 11th-ranked North Carolina. If you're into comparative scores, the Tar Heels beat Long Beach State, 78-63, on Friday and USC beat the 49ers three days earlier, 62-44.

Illinois is also rebuilding under new Coach John Groce and if the Trojans were to win, it would be their first 3-0 start since 2001.

Butler plays Marquette in the first game at Maui, followed by North Carolina against Mississippi State, Chaminade versus Texas, and USC-Illinois. The Trojans will play either Texas or Chaminade in their second game.

O'Neill is particularly pleased with the play of 7-foot-2 junior transfer Omar Oraby, who came to USC from Rice. Oraby is one of nine transfers on the roster, a necessity, O'Neill says, to make up for the small number of players left in the program after Tim Floyd resigned as coach following the 2008-09 season.

Oraby arrived at USC only in September and he has 21 points and 12 rebounds in two games off the bench for the Trojans.

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