USC basketball: Trojans bounce back from two-game skid, beat New Mexico State, 80-61
Following a 20-point blowout and then a one-point heartbreaker, USC got back in the win column with a convincing 80-61 drubbing of New Mexico State on Sunday in Springfield, Mass., as part of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament.
The Trojans (3-2) got off to a slow start in their loss to Bradley on Saturday, but that wasn't the case Sunday. Trailing 4-5 early, USC forged a 13-0 run with eight points scored by freshmen.
That double-digit lead got nipped to three, 24-21, with 4:27 before halftime, but USC closed on a 16-7 run to lead 40-28 into the locker room.
To start the second half, freshman guard Bryce Jones scored two quick buckets, including a three-point jumper, to spark a 7-1 run for USC.
The Trojans cruised from there, their lead ballooning to 20 points on a made free throw by junior forward Nikola Vucevic with 10:29 in the second half.
Freshman guard Maurice Jones, who played all 160 minutes in USC's first four games, played 39 minutes, scored eight points, recorded four assists, five rebounds and four turnovers. He was taken out of the game with 38 seconds left, his first time on the bench this season.
His roommate, Bryce, who had 13 points, five rebounds, five assists and five steals against Bradley, finished with a career-high 21 points on seven-for-10 shooting. He also made three of five from beyond the arc.
Vucevic, who came in averaging 18 points and 11.8 rebounds, had 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists. He made both his three-point shots.
Senior guard Marcus Simmons scored a season-high 12 points on five-of-six shooting.
And freshman forward Garrett Jackson continued his strong play with 10 points on four-of-seven shooting while recording five rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
USC shot 29 for 58 (50%), made 15 of 22 free throws and had 34 points in the paint.
New Mexico State shot 20 for 56 (35.7%), made 17 of 22 free throws and scored 24 points inside. The Aggies were led by guard Christian Kabongo, who scored 14 points.
USC will return home to face Cal State Fullerton at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Galen Center.
-- Baxter Holmes
Photo: USC guard Bryce Jones shoots over New Mexico State's Tshilidzi Nephawe and Tyrone Watson in the second half Sunday. Credit: Nancy Palmieri / Associated Press