Los Angeles — In a game where they were given a less than 1 percent chance to win by NCAA basketball advanced statistics website Kenpom, the Titans never really looked like they even had that good of odds.
USC looked every bit the No. 10 ranked team in the country as it ripped off a 10-2 run to start the game, overwhelming the Titans with its waves of coordinated athleticism on defense and offensive competence and ultimately defending its home court with an 84-42 win in both teams’ season opener.
“I’m really disappointed with the way our team came out tonight. They had no energy, no purpose, and USC did what they were supposed to do and took it to us,” said Titans Head Coach Dedrique Taylor.
Going into the game, Taylor said CSUF would need to control the pace of the contest in order to upset the Trojans, but the team’s defense didn’t get enough stops to allow the Titans easy chances to run. USC’s experienced defense also didn’t give up any easy opportunities in the half court.
On the rare occasions the Trojans did allow the Titans to sneak a shot through, CSUF couldn’t convert, shooting just 23.3 percent from the field and 10.5 percent from three.
When USC couldn’t force Fullerton into turnovers, they made the Titans cough up the rock. CSUF turned the ball over 21 times against the Trojans, the statistic Taylor deemed unacceptable.
“They don’t even full-fledge press,” Taylor said. “We were just really haphazard with the ball and threw it around like it was a rag doll.”
Jackson Rowe led the team in scoring with 12 points on 5-10 shooting and Khalil Ahmad chipped in 9 points on 14 shots, but no other CSUF player made more than two baskets.
Rowe said his individual numbers didn’t matter if they didn’t help the team win.
“Honestly I’m just worried about the team right now, not myself. There’s a lot of stuff we have to do to step up together,” Rowe said.
USC’s game operations played video of its players who scored dancing on the arena Jumbotron after making buckets. As a result, the Trojans did a lot of dancing Friday, because the Titans couldn’t even lean on their defense — a strength of the team last season — to slow down USC, who shot 41.2 percent from the field and lit CSUF up for 41.7 percent shooting from three.
Chimezie Metu led the Trojans in scoring with 18 points on 50 percent shooting, while Bennie Boatwright poured in 13, mostly in a hot-shooting first half from the junior guard as USC built its lead.
The Titans will next travel to take on Saint Mary’s Wednesday in a game Kenpom doubled their odds to a 2 percent chance of victory, but Taylor made it sound like they’ll have worse odds than that if they don’t clean up their play.
“I don’t feel like we did anything that we’ve practiced for the last month and a half. I feel like we’ve basically wasted a month and a half if that’s what we’re going to do out there on the floor,” Taylor said.