Los Angeles, CA – USC junior center Nick Rakocevic recorded his fourth double-double of the season to lead the Trojans to a 75-65 win over Long Beach State Wednesday night at the Galen Center.
“That was a tough game,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “Long Beach played very hard. We played well enough to win. We struggled at times offensively, missed shots and didn’t pass well.”
Rakocevic finished with 19 points, 13 rebounds and has averaged 11.7 rebounds per game this season, sixth nationally and tops in the Pac-12.
“My teammates were making all the right plays,” Rakocevic said. “I was just cutting. I missed some easy ones I usually don’t miss. Overall, we got the win and that’s what counts.”
The Trojans took a 47-33 lead early in the second half but the 49ers went on a 10-0 run to keep the game close.
USC missed a lot of wide open shots from close range and from beyond the arc. The Trojans were held to 40 percent shooting from the floor.
“Our defense was okay,” Enfield said. “Long Beach came with a lot of intensity. But give our players credit for figuring out how to win.”
Derryck Thornton hit a 3-pointer to give USC a five-point lead with 1:48 left in the first half. Ron Freeman responded with a three of his own.
Jonah Matthews and Shaquan Aaron nailed back-to-back 3-pointers with a minute left to put USC up, 36-28, at halftime.
USC’s next game will be against No. 5 Nevada on Saturday at the Galen Center at 1:30 p.m. Nevada is 7-0 after defeating Loyola Chicago, 79-65, on Nov. 27.
“Nevada is the oldest team in the country, experience and age-wise,” Enfield said. “They are physical, long and play well together.”