The No. 10 Trojans were victorious in their home opener on Nov. 10, beating Cal State Fullerton 84-42 in front of 6,327 fans. Junior forward Chimezie Metu led USC with 18 points and 10 rebounds on the night.
Junior Bennie Boatwright drained a 3-pointer to open up the night. The Trojans never relinquished their lead, keeping complete control of the game for 40 minutes.
"I thought our upperclassmen came out and set the tone. They played very hard and played well on defense," Head Coach Andy Enfield said after the game. "Our bench came in and kept the energy going. I thought it was an impressive first step."
Derryck Thornton, the redshirt sophomore transfer from Duke, made his debut as a Trojan coming off the bench to score 11 points in 20 minutes.
USC enters this season in the shadow of an FBI investigation after assistant coach Tony Bland was indicted on corruption and bribery charges. It was announced before the game that De'Anthony Melton would not play due to eligibility concerns in relation to the investigation.
"As I said before its been a challenge on the program level and the personal level," Coach Enfield said in regards to the investigation. "We have to try to stay focused on what we can do, and that's try to prepare to win basketball games and come together as a team and get better."
But there was a bit of light that broke through the clouds of the investigation: USC was ranked No. 10 in the AP preseason poll for the first time since 1974.
When asked if being ranked as a top-10 team added any additional pressure, Boatwright smiled and said, "No. It feels good, it feels good knowing that all our hard work paid off."
USC showed depth in its bench, with 14 players getting minutes in the first game of the season. Metu, Boatwright, Thornton, sophomore Jonah Mathews, and senior Jordan McLaughlin all posted double-digit scoring.
Considered an inexperienced team just four years ago, USC now has one of the most experienced teams in college basketball. That experience is complimented with promising freshmen like Charles O'Bannon Jr. and Usher Jordan.
The Trojans are back in action on Monday, Nov. 13 as they take on North Dakota State at 8 p.m. in the Galen Center.