Looking for win No. 1 in conference
(9-9, 0-5) returned to the Galen Center on Wednesday looking for its first Pac-12 conference win hosting California
The Trojans were coming off a tough road trip to Colorado and Utah, where they lost by 18 and 21 points to the Buffaloes and Utes.
USC has lost each of its first five Pac-12 games by double-digits.
Turn up, SC
The Trojans took it to California in the first half. They led the Bears, who came in undefeated in Pac-12 conference play, by nine going into the half, 41-32.
USC center Omar Oraby played his best 20 minutes of Pac-12 basketball in the first half, going into the break with nine points and three rebounds.
Trojan guard Byron Welsey continued to prove why he has been the only constant in Enfield's rotating starting lineup. Wesley finished the first half leading the Trojans with nine points, six boards, and two assists.
In the second half, the Trojans opened a 15-point lead after freshman Nikola Jovanovic completed a three-point play. Jovanovic led all scorers in the contest with 23 points.
The Bears closed within seven points with 1:45 to play, but that is as close as they would come to the Trojans.
USC won its first Pac-12 conference game, 77-69.
"That was a big win for us," Enfield said after the game. "We had a very frustrating couple weeks. I'm proud of our players."
The Cal Bears only shot 32% from the field in the first half, held to 10-for-31 from the field.
Cal stayed alive off the shooting of Justin Cobbs and Jordan Mathews, contributing 12 and 13 points to the Bears' 32 point first half.
The Trojans won the first half rebounding contest, 19-17. USC finished the game with 37 boards to Cal's 33.
"We're fortunate to win because we played well," Enfield said. "Our guys did a good job running the floor offensively and defensively."
USC nearly forced more first half turnovers than they committed, which is a marked improvement for a Trojan squad who has been plagued by turnovers all season. USC finished the first half with six turnovers to Cal's five.
The Trojans play improved in the second half. They finished with just 11 turnovers, their best mark of the Pac-12 season.
Four in double-digits
USC finished with four players scoring in double digits. Freshman Nikola Jovanovic led the way with a career high 23 points on 8-for-10 shooting. He was a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line.
"It was a really good win for our team and our confidence," Jovanovic said after the game.
Junior guard Byron Wesley scored 14 points, adding four assists.
Wednesday's game was also career night for guard Pe'Shon Howard. The transfer chipped in 12 points, 10 assists, grabbing six rebounds. He was moved into the starting point-guard spot by Enfield on Wednesday.
Freshman guard Julian Jacobs came off the bench, providing energy, as well as 12 points and four assists. Jacobs did not turn the ball over once. "[He] was the key to the game," Enfield explained. "To beat a team like Cal, you need players to have big games."
Turnover trouble no more
For the first time in Pac-12 conference play, the Trojans kept their turnovers to a manageable number, only committing 11 for the night.
It's a vast improvement to the 14.8 they've been averaging over their first 17 games, a number that often crept up to 16-18 in Pac-12 conference play.
"I thought our players deserved to win because of the way they prepared," Enfield said. "They practiced hard and stated together as a team."
USC is back in action on Sunday at 2pm PT in the Galen Center hosting Stanford (12-5, 3-2). The Cardinal will play at UCLA on Thursday before making their way to USC on Sunday.
"We have a tough game against Stanford now," Enfield said.
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USC picked up its first Pac-12 Conference win on Wednesday night, beating California 77-69. The Trojans improve to 1-5 in the Pac 12, the Bears fall to 5-1.
After dropping five straight, Trojans earn first conference victory...