The 18th ranked USC Trojans were stunned 96-81 by the Mercer Bears of the Atlantic Sun Conference Saturday in Los Angeles. The Trojans were totally outplayed from the opening tip to the final whistle.
Mercer was led by sophomore point guard James Florence. Florence was a step ahead of the Trojans' defense all game scoring 30 points.
"They played with a lot of poise on the offensive end and had a terrific player out front in (James) Florence. We knew he was a very good talent," said Tim Floyd.
Mayo Solid in Debut
The wait is finally over. The OJ Mayo Era has officially begun at USC. Unfortunately for Trojans' fans it started with a disappointing loss to the Mercer Bears of the Atlantic Sun Conference.
While the result was a disappointment, the play of OJ Mayo certainly wasn't. The highly-touted freshman guard scored a team-high 32 points on a variety of dunks, three-pointers and mid-range jumpers. Mayo also added 7 rebounds and 4 assists.
When asked about his college debut Mayo replied, "It was a lot of fun. I wish we would have won."
Trojans Lack Depth
The Trojans sorely missed the play of sophomore guard Daniel Hackett. Hackett is still recovering from his broken jaw. The young USC team could have used Hackett's toughness and leadership against a veteran Mercer squad.
Freshmen Davon Jefferson and Marcus Simmons have returned from injury but didn't play because they aren't comfortable in the USC offense. "They don't understand what we are doing yet," said Tim Floyd.
USC was also without freshman center Mamadou Diarra who is sidelined with a hernia.
"We got tired and couldn't sustain any effort for any long period of time," Tim Floyd said. "The 47 points we gave up in both halves was very discouraging. That is somewhat reflecting of what we have been experiencing in practice."
Gibson Struggles in Opener
Taj Gibson is USC's top returning player and one of the best big men in the PAC-10 but the big man struggled in the Trojans' season opening loss to Mercer. Gibson had many opportunities in the paint but wasn't able to capitalize missing several shots from close range.
"It's always frustrating when you feel like you can make those easy buckets but today they just weren't dropping," Taj Gibson said.
Gibson was 4 of 12 from the field and finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds.
USC will travel to Charleston, South Carolina next week to face The Citadel on Nov. 15th and South Carolina on Nov. 17th.