USC basketball started sloppy, but rallied to pull away from Robert Morris, 83-62, in the 2018-19 season opener at the Galen Center.
It certainly felt like the first game of the season for USC and Robert Morris, with both teams committing double-digit turnovers on the night. In fact, the two traded turnovers on the first three possessions of the game.
Though the Trojans held onto an advantage for most of the first half, the Colonials surged forward to take a 25-22 lead on a Jon Williams three-pointer with just over five minutes left. Nick Rakocevic restored USC’s lead with a layup just before the two-minute mark and the Trojans went into the half up 37-35.
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The second half opened with RMU making it difficult on Andy Enfield’s squad, who trailed 53-49 at the 12-minute mark. However, USC’s Shaqquan Aaron wrestled control of the game back towards the cardinal and gold. He scored 13 points in the final period as the Trojans finished out the game on a 30-9 run.
Aaron topped the scoring charts with 20 points on the night, shooting 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. Fellow veteran Rakocevic tallied 18 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks to post a double-double in the opener.
Tuesday night also held a promising debut for freshman Kevin Porter Jr., who went 6-of-7 from the field, with 15 points, five rebounds and an assist. The only blemish on his stat sheet: three turnovers and three personal fouls, which limited his time on the court.
Player of the game: Aaron sparked the offense when USC needed a veteran player to take control. On their first night playing without Jordan McLaughlin and Elijah Stewart, his contribution was key.
Stat of the game: The Trojans had four players in double-digit scoring while shooting 52.6 percent from the field.
Next on tap: USC will host Vanderbilt on Sunday evening at 6:00 p.m. in the Galen Center.