Stewart, Matthews lead USC past New Orleans 88-54
LOS ANGELES (AP) After overcoming a double-digit deficit in the final minutes last Friday to defeat Texas A&M on the road, USC took to the court with increased confidence on Tuesday and continued to flourish.
Elijah Stewart scored 21 points and Jonah Matthews added 13 as Southern California cruised to an 88-54 victory over New Orleans on Tuesday night.
The 6-5 junior made 7 of 10 shots, including 3 of 5 from beyond the arc as USC made a season high 11 3s.
''We came out and did what we wanted to do tonight,'' Stewart said. ''We can be really good with Bennie (Boatwright), and J Mac (Jordan McLaughlin) back. Nobody is shooting really well yet, but our defense has been our strong part, but our offense will come.''
The Trojans improved to 4-0 while the Privateers (1-3) lost their third straight and committed 19 turnovers. USC had 15 steals.
Shaqquan Aaron scored 12 points, Jordan McLaughlin added 11 (and 9 assists) and De'Anthony Melton poured in 10 points and had 5 steals for the Trojans, whose final score Tuesday marked a season high.
Erik Thomas led New Orleans with 20 points and Tevin Broyles 11.
The Trojans edged New Orleans on the boards, 40-38, and have outrebounded all four of their opponents this season.
New Orleans, averaging 81 points per game, was held to its lowest output of the season.
After keeping it close for the first six minutes, the Trojans offense erupted with a 15-0 run to build a double-digit lead.
''We haven't been scoring 3s too well, so it was nice to see some of the guys who were struggling making a few of them tonight,'' Trojans coach Andy Enfield said.
''We're very young and we still have to find our rotation. We're excited about the team and I'm comfortable with our freshmen and playing them late in games. We've been playing outstanding defense and rebounding well, that's why we're 4-0.''
Matthews' back-to-back baskets and Nick Rakocevic free throw capped the USC surge and gave the Trojans a 27-11 lead at the 9:05 mark of the first half.
''It feels great to get my rhythm and I felt like I got out of my slump,'' said Matthews, who scored a career-high. ''I feel like part of the team.''
USC held New Orleans scoreless for just over six minutes midway through the opening half. Thomas' basket broke the Privateers scoring drought with 8:31 left in the half.
The Trojans maintained the pressure on New Orleans for the remainder of the period and extended its lead to 42-25 at the break.
Aaron made three 3-pointers in the first half and led the Trojans with 9 points.
The Trojans shot 55.2 percent in the first half, including 7 of 14 from long range, and held New Orleans to 35.3 percent from the floor.
The Privateers never got closer than 15 points in the second half while USC led by as many as 35.
New Orleans: Despite dropping its last three games, the Privateers look to be vastly improved this season from last year's 10-20 record. Thomas is New Orleans leading scorer averaging 23 points per game.
USC: The Trojans has started the season off on a strong note with four starters averaging double digits.
TIP INS: Tuesday's game marked just the second time the two teams had played. In November 1986, New Orleans defeated the Trojans 85-67 in New Orleans.
FRESHMAN STANDOUT: Entering Tuesday's game, freshman guard De'Anthony Melton has provided USC with a strong presence off the bench. He is averaging nearly 10 points per game and is third on the team in rebounds, second in assists and leads the team and the Pac-12 with an average of 2.7 steals per game. He swiped another 5 steals on Tuesday. ''Anthony has long arms and he anticipates and he has a nose for the ball and you can't teach that,'' Enfield said.
New Orleans: The Privateers complete their thee-game road trip winless and return home to open a two-game homestand starting with Florida College on Friday.
USC: The Trojans look to extend their winning streak and duplicate last season's 5-0 start when they take on SMU on Friday at home.