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December 18, 2007Dwight Lewis entered Monday night's 83-54 dismantling of Delaware State averaging a shade under double digits.
After pouring in a team-high 18 points, on 8-of-9 shooting against the Hornets, the sophomore guard had a simple explanation: "I just had wide open looks. We had great penetration. I was able to knock 'em down."
The Trojans sped up their play - after 13 days off, in which they focused on the transition game - and ran circles around Delaware State. Coach Tim Floyd praised his team's unselfishness, as USC kept the ball moving until it found open men.
Lewis' performance led a team that sank 68.1 percent of its shots, including 10-of-15 three-point attempts. Daniel Hackett - nine points on 3-of-7 shooting - was the only Trojan with multiple attempts who missed more than half his shots.
The USC record shooting percentage is 71.1, set in 1983 at San Jose State.
"I thought we really made the next, extra pass more so than any time this year," Floyd said. "The offense didn't die in any one guy's hands."
Freshman phenom O.J. Mayo, who struggled shooting in consecutive losses to Kansas and Memphis, faced a box-and-one defense and double teams whenever he touched the ball. But instead of forcing shots, he kept the ball moving and finished 12 points on 5-of-6 from the field, with four assists.
USC had 24 assists - its highest mark since 26 against California in 2005 - and only 11 turnovers.
"We wanted to accelerate the ball into play," Floyd said. "We got caught up in who we were playing against for five or six games It never felt like we were really fluid offensively in any of those games, with the exception of maybe Southern Illinois."
Four Trojans scored in double figures, including reserve point guard Angelo Johnson, who had all 11 of his points in the final 12 minutes - with the help of three 3-pointers.
Until that point, Delaware State had matched USC, when the Trojans' backups were on the court. But after scoring two points in the first half, the USC bench had 20 in the second half.
"I just got a little more confidence," Johnson said. "I really wasn't shooting the ball early, because I was trying to see everyone's personnel. But now I'm getting comfortable with my offense, so I've got to look for my shots."
USC sparked the transition game with its defense, playing aggressive, physical man-to-man coverage.
"That's who we are," Floyd said.
NOTED: Davon Jefferson scored 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting for USC. Roy Bright led the Hornets with 22 on 8-of-21 shooting. USC sophomore forward Taj Gibson, who sprained an ankle in the preseason, appeared more explosive and agile Monday, scoring five points and grabbing seven rebounds. "I think that's probably a result of us talking about toughness and demonstrating a willingness to play through soreness and pain, versus injury," Floyd said. "He's trying to grow. We forget that he's a sophomore."
Make sure to check out reporter Jonathan Kay's live blog from every home USC basketball game on the TroyHoops.com basketball message board.