Los Angeles, CA – USC senior guard Shaqquan Aaron was ready to step into a bigger role this season and he showed it against Robert Morris.
The Trojans trailed by four with 12:18 remaining when USC went on an 18-4 run, including a pair of one-handed dunks by Aaron and 11 points during the run.
USC opened the season with an 83-62 win over Robert Morris Tuesday night at the Galen Center.
“We were down and I just felt it was time to give my team a boost,” Aaron said. “We all bought in together and locked in on defense. My dunk ignited the run. A dunk is very disrespectful to the opponent and brings the crowd into the game and gives us energy.”
Aaron scored 20 points and Nick Rakocevic finished with 18 points and 16 rebounds as USC has won nine of their last 10 home openers.
“Shaqquan played great, with energy and the right way,” USC head coach Andy Enfield said. “He knows what it takes to win. It’s an opportunity for him. He got off to a great start tonight.”
Freshman five-star recruit Kevin Porter Jr. had an impressive debut, scoring 15 points with five rebounds in 25 minutes. Porter was 6-of-7 from the field.
“Porter is poised,” Aaron said. “He played great tonight. He’s a great player.”
USC led 37-35 at halftime but the Trojans were plagued with sloppy play, including 11 turnovers in the first half. In the second half, USC played better defense and shared the ball while only turning the ball over four times in the final 20 minutes.
“We figured out how to play as a team,” Enfield said. “In the first half, we really struggled. We were nervous. Some players didn’t play well. Then we came together and shared the basketball.”
Rakocevic said his teammates gave him the ball in the second half and gave him easy looks.
“They believed in me and told me to play my game,” Rakocevic said. “I definitely want to keep expanding my game and be aggressive on the boards.”
USC will host Vanderbilt on Sunday at 6 p.m. as part of the Pac-12/SEC Showdown. The game will air on the Pac-12 Network.
“We need to come out Sunday and play a more consistent 40 minutes,” Enfield said.