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Vermont stands in way of USC climbing over .500

Nov 7, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; USC Trojans head coach Andy Enfield watches play from the bench in the second half against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles at Galen Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Southern California continues its season-opening, four-game homestand on Tuesday when it welcomes to Los Angeles a Vermont team closing out a tough, three-game California road swing.

The Trojans (1-1) rebounded from a stunning, 74-61 loss in the Nov. 7 season opener to Florida Gulf Coast with a 96-58 romp against Alabama State on Thursday.

“We were very disappointed in the second half and the way we played offensively (against Florida Gulf Coast) and we let that affect our defense,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “We as a staff and as a team tried to work very hard on some of the things we were deficient at.”

The Trojans saw a marked game-to-game improvement on offense, most notably with veteran guard Drew Peterson putting up 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the floor and adding six assists and six rebounds in the Thursday win.

Vermont (1-2) comes in looking to salvage the finale of its trip. USC is the Catamounts’ third straight opponent on the West Coast tour that qualified for last season’s NCAA Tournament.

Vermont lost the opener of the trip at Saint Mary’s, 79-53, then dropped to a 94-85 double-overtime decision to reigning Big West Conference champion Cal State Fullerton on Sunday.

“We had our chances — both teams had their chances,” Catamounts coach John Becker said following the latest loss. “We got off to a slow start in the first half defensively. We’re a work in progress and we had a lot of foul trouble tonight and we have to keep our best guys on the floor.”

Bellarmine transfer Dylan Penn scored 27 points for Vermont at Cal State Fullerton, but he was one of six Catamounts to accrue at least four personal fouls. Four Vermont players fouled out.

Penn and backcourt mate Aaron Deloney have paced Vermont’s scoring through the season’s early going with averages of 16 and 18 points, respectively.

USC counters with Peterson (14 points per game) and perimeter stopper Boogie Ellis, who is producing 17 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 4.5 steals per contest. Ellis has hit half of his 10 3-point attempts.

–Field Level Media

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