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USC trails big after first half against Illinois

Trojans fall behind, 57-26, after first 20 minutes at Maui Invitational.

November 19, 2012|By Lisa Dillman
  • Illinois forward Sam McLaurin, center, battles USC's Aaron Fuller and Greg Allen for position to get a rebound in the first half Monday.
Illinois forward Sam McLaurin, center, battles USC's Aaron Fuller… (Eugene Tanner / Associated…)

One timeout. Then another.

And one more.

USC Coach Kevin O'Neill was doing his best to stop the fast-building momentum from Illinois, trying to jump-start the Trojans on Monday night. He called three timeouts, including two in about the span of a minute, and the game was not even 10 minutes old.

He may have had plenty of words. But the Fighting Illini, apparently, had all the answers.

Illinois was well on the way to handing USC its first loss of the season, leading, 57-26, at the half, as this edition went to press, in the Maui Invitational at the Lahaina Civic Center in Lahaina.

Illinois made its last 11 shots of the half and shot 69%.

USC's reputation as a stellar defensive unit took a major hit with Illinois scoring at will. Last season, the most points Illinois scored in the first half was 44 against Chicago State.

USC was trying to start the season 3-0 for the first time since 2001. Illinois arrived in Maui 3-0, coming off a one-point win against Hawaii on Friday.

"USC has got the size of an NBA team across the front line," said ESPN analyst Jay Bilas, in pregame comments.

That was the last time the broadcast crew made any comparisons to the NBA.

This game was blown open early as the Trojans went more than four minutes without a field goal, as Illinois turned a 9-8 lead into a 22-11 advantage.

Leading Illinois in the first half were Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson, who nearly matched the output of USC, combining for 23 points.

For the Trojans, who shot 40% and had 11 turnovers, point guard Jio Fontan had eight points.

Dillman reported from Los Angeles.

Dillman reported from Los Angeles.

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