Superstar recruit Mayo’s 32-pts couldn’t lift Floyd’s Trojans to victory.
OJ Mayo brought his special sauce to the Galen Center for the basketball season opener against the Mercer Bears, leading the Trojans with 32 points, a school record set by a freshman in his debut. Still, USC couldn’t hang with the small school from Georgia, as the Bears took control of the game early on, eventually beating the #18 Trojans 96-81.
James Florence scored 30 points for the Bears, the most ever by an opponent in the Galen Center’s history. But Mercer’s win was largely a team effort, with five players scoring double figures. At one point in the first half, Mercer led by 21 points. This was a testament not only to Mercer’s accuracy but to the Trojans’ inability to control the ball, playing inconsistent defense throughout the game, committing 19 turnovers (8 by Mayo) and shooting only 18-32 from the free-throw line.
The second half seemed to turn things around. The Trojans out shot and out-scored the Bears 22-8 early in the second half, including 10 points from OJ Mayo to close in on Mercer 55-52. But the Trojans seemed to tire too easily, and Mercer quickly regained control and held on to it for the rest of the game.
Notable Trojan Performances: Aside from OJ Mayo’s 32 points, Taj Gibson finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds and Angelo Johnson had 17.
Losing the first game is no new news for the Trojans, as Tim Floyd is now 0-3 is season-openers while at USC, and still managed a sweet-sixteen finish in 2006.