GAME NOTES: The USC Trojans close out their non-conference slate on Sunday evening, as they play host to the Howard Bison at the Galen Center.
Andy Enfield's Trojans are a solid 8-4 on the year and seek a ninth non- conference victory for the first time since 2011. USC has won four of its last five games and enters off one of its best wins of the year, edging out Dayton in overtime on the road last weekend, 79-76.
Wins have been few and far between for the Bison this season, at a mere 3-12 overall. They have been even harder to come by on the road, where Howard is 0-10 on the year. Most recently, the team dropped a 77-59 decision at Liberty on Dec. 17.
USC has won all three previous meetings with Howard, with the last meeting coming in 1993 (107-65).
The Bison trailed by 15 points at the half against Liberty and were never a threat the rest of the way in the lopsided loss. The team shot a sub par .365 from the floor, including a mere 5-of-20 from behind the arc. Prince Okoroh was not subject to the poor shooting however, as he was 9-of-19 from the floor, finishing with a game-high 24 points. Solomon Mangham added 10 points, but the remainder of the roster managed a mere 25 total points.
Poor offensive performances have been the norm for Howard, which ranks among the nation's worst in both scoring (335th at 61.5 ppg) and field-goal percentage (340th at .378). To make matters worse, the team has been without its leading scorer in freshman James Daniel (19.8 ppg) lately with a toe injury. He is listed as doubtful for this contest. Okoroh is the only other reliable scorer on the roster for Howard at 15.8 ppg.
Pe'Shon Howard drained an off-balance 3-pointer as time expired, propelling the Trojans to a hard-fought win over the Flyers last time on the court. Byron Wesley, who came off the bench for the second straight game, finished with a game-high 26 points in the win. Howard and Nikola Jovanovic chimed in with 12 points apiece.
The Trojans are off to a solid start thanks to positive margins in both scoring (+3.0) and rebounding (+3.1). The team is shooting a healthy .453 from the floor and putting up 74.4 ppg. Wesley is shooting a modest .428 from the floor, a number weighed down by an ugly .217 from 3-point range (5-of-23), but still leads the team with 16.8 ppg. Howard adds 11.9 ppg and is doling out 4.0 apg. Omar Oraby (9.8 ppg) and Jovanovic (9.6 ppg) are just under double digits.
With Daniel on the court, Howard stood little chance of upending the Trojans at home. Without him, the Bison could get run out of the building.
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