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November 26, 2007

Southern California basketball wins Anaheim Classic title

ANAHEIM, Calif.(AP) Freshman Davon Jefferson scored 18 points and Southern California blew out No. 19 Southern Illinois in the second half of a 70-45 victory in the inaugural Anaheim Classic title game Sunday night.

Jefferson had scoring sprees of eight and six points in each half in his third game since returning from a preseason injury to his left knee. He made 8-of-11 free throws.

Dwight Lewis added 14 points, O.J. Mayo 13, Taj Gibson 10 and Daniel Hackett had 10 assists for USC (5-1). Mayo was in double figures for the sixth time, the most by a freshman since Tom Lewis did so in his first nine games of the 1985-86 season.

Randal Falker led the cold-shooting Salukis (3-1) with 17 points and 12 rebounds. He and starters Bryan Mullins and Tony Boyle along with Joshua Bone were in foul trouble much of the second half.

The Trojans have won five in a row since opening the season with a stunning loss to Mercer that dropped them out of the Top 25. Having disposed of the Salukis, the Trojans play ranked teams Oklahoma, Kansas and Memphis in their next three games.

Southern Illinois won its first three games by an average of 18.7 points. This time, they were blown out by more than that.

USC doesn't have a senior on its roster, but the Trojans played poised against an experienced Southern Illinois team that reached the round of 16 in last season's NCAA tournament. USC was quicker too, beating the Salukis in transition and then forcing them to shoot from the perimeter, where Southern Illinois hit just 33 percent.

For the first time in six games, Mayo and Gibson didn't start, replaced by freshman Angelo Johnson and junior Keith Wilkinson.

Mayo and Gibson entered with 13 1/2 minutes remaining in the first half and had an immediate impact. Mayo scored to draw the Trojans within two, while Gibson blocked Falker at the other end.

The Trojans twice trailed by five early in the game, but once Mayo and Gibson got going, they helped USC outscore the Salukis 27-10 to end the half ahead 35-23.

Jefferson scored eight points in a row, including a dunk that began with Mayo's pass and ended with the crowd roaring. Mayo's 3-pointer ended the half and gave USC its largest lead, while most of Gibson's effort was on the defensive end.

The Trojans pulled away in the second half, when the Salukis got no closer than seven points. Lewis dominated a 15-0 run with six straight points that extended USC's lead to 61-37.

USC won all three of its games in the eight-team tournament, with its closest a 57-53 win over Miami of Ohio on Friday. Mayo was named most outstanding player in the event that attracted a couple dozen NBA scouts to watch the star freshman.



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