USC basketball: Trojans fall on road to TCU, 81-69
Their 81-69 loss to Texas Christian here Monday night established that pattern, one to be expected for a team that relies on 18-year-old playmakers.
Namely, the starting freshman guard law firm of (Maurice) Jones and (Bryce) Jones, who combined for 11 points on four-for-18 shooting from the field.
Of course, it didn’t help that the Horned Frogs (5-2) played like a Big East Conference team, which they’ll be in 2012 after the day’s news that TCU is moving on up from the Mountain West Conference to the Big East side.
They offered plenty of wild dunks, strong guard play and hustle to mark the occasion. USC (4-4) offered little.
Early in the game, the Horned Frogs leapt to a nine-point lead, but Trojans re-took it later in the first half.
But then TCU responded with a 17-2, game-clinching run that spanned the end of the first half and beginning of the second half to hand the Trojans their third loss in the four games that they played in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament. The other defeats: Rider and Bradley.
Dating to last season, USC lost its fifth consecutive road game, and 11th of 13th overall.
USC’s woes, home and away, are because of inconsistent play, whether from their backcourt or frontline.
Mistakes are also playing a role, such as the two blown layups in the first half by Maurice Jones.
Example: With 10 minutes 30 seconds left in the second half, TCU forward Amric Fields’ three-point jumper hit the rim, bounced high above the backboard, and dropped in, giving his team a 60-47 lead.
That one didn’t seal the win. It merely cemented the night.
Forwards Alex Stepheson and Nikola Vucevic led USC with 14 and 16 points, respectively.
Both had 10 rebounds, although USC was out-rebounded for only the second time this season, 40-33.
And so ends USC’s season-opening, eight-games-in-17-days marathon, its most games in such a stretch in nearly 20 seasons.
The Trojans will get a five-day breather before the Texas Longhorns and former Compton Dominguez star Jordan Hamilton roll into the Galen Center on Sunday.
-- Baxter Holmes in Fort Worth
Photo: USC guard Donte Smith has his shot challenged by TCU's Sammy Yeager in the first half Monday night. Credit: Ron Jenkins / McClatchy-Tribune