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USC basketball: Behind Joneses, Trojans top Santa Clara, 86-73

USC freshman guard Maurice Jones scored 29 points, his freshman guard roommate Bryce Jones (no relation) added 15, and junior forward Nikola Vucevic had 22 as the Trojans improved to 2-0 with a 86-73 win against Santa Clara on Monday night at the Galen Center. 

The brilliant performance by Maurice Jones, a 5-foot-7, highly touted recruit from Michigan, offset what seemed to be devastating news for USC that senior forward Alex Stepheson has a fractured left hand. 

Stepheson finished with six points and seven rebounds in a full 40 minutes.

But, truthfully, Stepheson was never known for having great hands, and he didn't seem to be affected by his left hand, which had a temporary cast on it. (A full one will be placed on it Tuesday).

Maurice Jones, however, was the catalyst in the win, scoring 13 points in the first half, and 16 in the second, many of them driving layups, most of them from impossible angles as he used his dart-like quickness and sharp ball-handling skills to penetrate the lane. 

It was good for USC that Jones, who shot 10 of 20, including seven of 10 from the free throw line, played so well, since senior guards Donte Smith and Marcus Simmons sat out most of the second half because of foul trouble. 

And with 2:20 left, Bryce Jones sank a top-of-the-key three-point dagger with the shot-clock winding down to put USC up 78-65.  

USC is off to a 2-0 start for only the second time in the last nine seasons. 

And in continuing their NBA-like eight-games-in-16-days non-conference grind, the Trojans host the Rider Broncs on Wednesday in their first game of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off, which will be continued this weekend in Springfield, Mass.

-- Baxter Holmes

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