USC basketball: Trojans avoid letdown, roll Lehigh, 76-49
Final score: USC 76, Lehigh 49.
The Trojans (8-5) have won four of their last five games, with two wins coming against ranked teams (Texas and Tennessee), while Lehigh (6-6), which was playing its first game in California since taking on San Diego in the 1999-2000 season, well, never had much of a chance.
USC jumped on top early with runs of 9-0 and 12-0 in the first half, led by 17 at halftime, and made the second half against the Mountain Hawks as exciting as snail races.
Both teams exchanged buckets as the clock seemed to tick even slower, ending this beatdown that USC Coach Kevin O'Neill feared would be a letdown after his team's upset of No. 19 Tennessee two days earlier.
Four players scored in double figures for the Trojans, led by guard Jio Fontan (21 points), who was playing in only his third game for USC after having not played in more than a year.
Overall, USC shot 28 for 58 (48.3%) form the field, including nine for 16 from three-point range.
Lehigh shot 17 for 54 (31.5%), and its star guard C.J. McCollum, who entered the game with a 22.5 scoring average, the 12th best in the nation, was hounded by USC defensive specialist Marcus Simmons and scored only seven points on two-for-eight shooting.
USC also dominated inside against a team that only has one key player taller than 6-foot-7. Junior forward Nikola Vucevic bounced back from a poor game against Tennessee and had 16 points and 10 rebounds, his Pacific 10 Conference-leading seventh double-double of the season.
USC now has a six-day break before it begins Pacific 10 Conference play against Washington on Wednesday at the Galen Center. The Trojans beat the Huskies by 26 in their Southern California meeting last season.
-- Baxter Holmes
Photo: USC guard Jio Fontan drives against Lehigh forward Gabe Knutson in the first half Thursday night. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times