3-Points: USC vs. UCI

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Compiled by blog contributor Ben Weiss

The men's basketball team started its season in the right direction after capturing a 62-49 victory in the opener against the University of California, Irvine at the Galen Center. Three takeaways from the Trojans' performance...

  • It was a tale of two halves for Bryce Jones and Nikola Vucevic. Like his hot start against Point Loma last Saturday, Jones, playing this time in the starting lineup, quickly asserted himself offensively. A dunk following an offensive rebound and a three from the corner got USC's offense rolling in the first three minutes, and later with the game tied at 11, the freshman single-handedly engineered a 7-0 run with two more buckets from long distance and a free throw. "Offensively, I'm becoming a better shooter. I think I can offer that to the team," Jones said of his game. As Jones cooled off in the second half, Vucevic turned up the heat. After a two-point first half performance, Vucevic poured in 17 in the final 20 minutes to finish with a game-high 19. "I was more aggressive in the second half," Vucevic said. "I made an adjustment when they were double teaming me. The coaches told me what to do...and it worked."

  • USC dominated the glass from start to finish, which helped ease the team's shooting woes. Paced by Vucevic's game-high 14 boards, the Trojans gave their opponent only four second-chance opportunities while notching 15 offensive rebounds of their own - only seven fewer than UCI's 22 total defensive rebounds. Towards the end of the game the Anteaters seemed to concede the Trojans' height advantage, as many of USC's defensive rebounds went uncontested.

  • Freshman Maurice Jones continues to impress and improve. The team's starting point guard played all 40 minutes against UCI and was a crucial asset when the team struggled against the Anteaters' zone defense. With less than seven minutes remaining and the Trojans' double-digit lead cut to only six, Jones converted on an acrobatic driving layup that put the kabosh on UCI's run and kept USC at a comfortable distance from their opponent. "Making plays doesn't mean I have to score, but (Head Coach Kevin O'Neill) wants me to just make some type of play so we can get an easy bucket," Jones said. When asked if he was tired from his long day of work, Jones smiled and conceded: "A little bit."
O'Neill was very pleased with his freshman point guard's performance. Here's the full video of the Head Coach's post-game thoughts...

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