USC (0-0) at Utah State (0-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 8, 9:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dee Glen Smith Spectrum (10,270) -- Logan, Utah. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: USC 0-0, Utah State 0-0. Away Record: USC 0-0, Utah State 0-0. Neutral Record: USC 0-0, Utah State 0-0. Conference Record: USC 0-0, Utah State 0-0. Series Record: USC leads, 6-4.
GAME NOTES: The USC men's basketball program begins a new era on Friday night, as the Trojans open the 2013-14 season at Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan against the Utah State Aggies.
On a short leash following an embarrassing 2011-12 season (6-26), USC fired head coach Kevin O'Neill after a 7-10 start last season. The Trojans finished the campaign 14-18 overall with a respectable 9-9 mark in the Pac-12 Conference under interim coach Bob Cantu, and in the offseason they made a splash by bringing aboard Andy Enfield, who led Florida Gulf Coast to an improbable Sweet 16 run in the NCAA Tournament last March.
Utah State had another successful season in 2012-13, going 21-10 overall and 11-7 in the Western Athletic Conference, although for the first time since 1997, it did not partake in a postseason tournament. The Aggies, who have won 20 or more games in 14 consecutive seasons under coach Stew Morrill, are now a member of the Mountain West Conference, which sent five teams to the NCAA Tournament last season.
USC holds a 6-4 advantage in the all-time series with Utah State, but the teams haven't met since 2000 when the Aggies won, 52-50.
Enfield is expected to incorporate the fast-pace style that wowed with FCGU last season, which should inject some life into a squad that scored a modest 65.7 points per game a season ago, although expecting "Dunk City" is probably setting expectations a bit too high. Top scorer Eric Wise (11.9 ppg) has moved on, but there's still some talent on the USC roster. J.T. Terrell put up 11.7 points per game, with most of his damage coming from beyond the arc with 67 3- pointers. Byron Wesley (10.2 ppg) impressed as a sophomore and should continue to see growth. With Jio Fontan (9.3 ppg, 5.3 apg) gone, the point guard duties will be handed over to Pe'Shon Howard, who was cleared to play this season after transferring from Maryland. Omar Oraby (7-foot-2, 270 pounds) and D.J. Haley (7-0, 250) give the Trojans an imposing interior presence.
Utah State's scoring production in 2012-13 (66.4 ppg) suffered down the stretch when Preston Medlin was lost for the rest of the season following a wrist injury in January, but the Aggies will almost certainly be better off this season with the former WAC Player of the Year back at full strength. In just 16 games last season, Medlin scored 16.3 points per contest and made nearly 40 percent of his 3-point attempts. He is also a talented passer, dishing out 3.2 assists per game. Jarred Shaw (14.2 ppg, 8.4 rpg) gained experience as the team's go-to scorer with Medlin sidelined, and gives USU a great inside-outside presence. Spencer Butterfield (12.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg) and Marcel Davis (7.1 ppg) also return to an experienced starting lineup.
USC is certainly a team to watch this season as Enfield is out to prove that he's worth the big contract he received in the offseason, but, early on, it's hard to imagine the Trojans' new scheme clicking on all cylinders. The return of Medlin should give the Aggies the spark they need to capture the home victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Utah State 71, USC 65
11/08 10:44:32 ET