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Rakocevic leads USC past Long Beach State 75-65

LOS ANGELES (AP) The shots weren't falling early for USC's Nick Rakocevic early Wednesday, leaving the junior one frustrated forward.

But when Long Beach State came charging back from a 14-point, second-half deficit to pull within two, Rakocevic found new life and led the Trojans to a 75-65 victory.

Rakocevic scored 13 of his 19 points in the game's final nine minutes and added a game-high 12 rebounds for the Trojans (5-2).

''He missed a lot of shots early,'' said USC coach Andy Enfield. ''I know he was frustrated. He probably could have had 25 or 26 points tonight.''

Rakocevic led a balanced USC attack, with all five starters scoring in double figures. Bennie Boatwright and Derryck Thornton each added 13 points, Johan Matthews had 11 and Shaqquan Aaron had 10.

Bryan Alberts and Jordan Roberts led the 49ers (2-6) with 13 points, with Ron Freeman adding 12 points and a team-high eight rebounds. It was a career-high for the sophomore guard Roberts.

''He was terrific,'' said Long Beach associate head coach Myke Scholl. ''We've spent the last couple weeks talking to him about really getting aggressive at his spots.''

Long Beach held USC to 42.2 percent shooting, but hit only 35.7 percent on its own shots.

''I'm really proud of this team defensively,'' Scholl said. ''They hung together when we got down and really gritted it out.''

USC jumped out to a 47-33 lead early in the second half and looked poised for a runaway, but the 49ers answered with a 10-0 run to pull back in the game.

Long Beach closed to within two points three different times but could never catch the Trojans.

''We have to do a better job of boxing out,'' Rakocevic said. ''You have to make sure they don't get second-chance points. But you have to give Long Beach credit, they played well.''

The 49ers outrebounded the bigger Trojans, 48-43.

USC led just 58-56 with six minutes to play before Mathews connected on a drive and then Rakocevic hit three consecutive shots.

''It was a tough game,'' Enfield said. ''We played just well enough to win the game.

''We missed a lot of easy shots and did not pass the ball as well as we have, but they found a way to win.''

BIG PICTURE

Long Beach State: Wednesday was the 49ers' fourth game against a Pac-12 team in their first eight games. They still have Stanford scheduled (Dec. 29) before starting conference play.

USC: Rakocevic's output on the boards was hardly a one-time thing. He entered the game averaging 11.7 rebounds per game, sixth nationally and tops in the Pac-12.

MISSING MAN

The 49ers played without leading scorer Deishuan Booker (16.0 per game). A Long Beach team spokesman said he was suspended one game for a violation of team rules.

RISING TO CHALLENGE

Thornton, a junior point guard who transferred from Duke after his freshman season, also led the Trojans with six assists. He connected on both of his 3-point attempts.

''I'm just slowing things down and letting the game come to me,'' Thornton said. ''Don't rush - I'm still working on that - and make sure everyone is happy.''

UP NEXT

Long Beach State: Will play its seventh game away from home in its first nine games when the 49ers travel to the University of San Diego on Saturday.

USC: The Trojans face their first ranked team of the season when they play host to No.5 Nevada on Saturday.

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Key Players
D. Booker
15 G
N. Rakocevic
29.7 Min. Per Game 29.7
13.8 Pts. Per Game 13.8
1.8 Ast. Per Game 1.8
11.7 Reb. Per Game 11.7
30.6 Field Goal % 50.0
33.3 Three Point % 0.0
92.0 Free Throw % 75.7
  Offensive rebound by Long Beach State 11.0
  Jordan Griffin missed 3-pt. jump shot 13.0
  Defensive rebound by Mason Riggins 23.0
  Nick Rakocevic missed 2nd of 2 free throws 23.0
+ 1 Nick Rakocevic made 1st of 2 free throws 23.0
  Personal foul on Drew Cobb 23.0
  Defensive rebound by Nick Rakocevic 25.0
  Bryan Alberts missed 3-pt. jump shot 27.0
+ 1 Derryck Thornton made 2nd of 2 free throws 34.0
+ 1 Derryck Thornton made 1st of 2 free throws 34.0
  Personal foul on Ron Freeman 34.0
Team Stats
Points 65 75
Field Goals 25-70 (35.7%) 27-64 (42.2%)
3-Pointers 5-22 (22.7%) 7-14 (50.0%)
Free Throws 10-18 (55.6%) 14-21 (66.7%)
Total Rebounds 48 43
Offensive 13 10
Defensive 27 27
Team 8 6
Assists 13 19
Steals 3 6
Blocks 2 4
Turnovers 11 11
Fouls 21 16
Technicals 0 0
13 PTS, 2 REB, 3 AST
19 PTS, 12 REB, 2 AST
12T
away team logo LBSU 2-6 283765
home team logo USC 5-2 363975
Team Stats
away team logo LBSU 2-6 74.9 PPG 40.6 RPG 11.7 APG
home team logo USC 5-2 76.3 PPG 38.5 RPG 16.2 APG
Key Players
2
J. Roberts G 7.2 PPG 4.0 RPG 1.1 APG 43.5 FG%
31
N. Rakocevic F 14.7 PPG 9.3 RPG 1.3 APG 54.8 FG%
Top Scorers
J. Roberts G 13 PTS 7 REB 2 AST
N. Rakocevic F 19 PTS 12 REB 2 AST
35.7 FG% 42.2
22.7 3PT FG% 50.0
55.6 FT% 66.7
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
B. Alberts 13 2 3 5/13 3/9 0/0 1 35 0 0 0 0 2
R. Freeman 12 8 1 5/11 1/3 1/1 5 24 0 0 0 1 7
T. Yussuf 9 6 1 4/11 0/0 1/2 4 17 0 1 3 3 3
K. Byers 4 2 0 0/5 0/2 4/4 2 16 1 1 0 1 1
E. Maxhuni 2 3 2 1/6 0/2 0/0 1 20 1 0 2 1 2
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
B. Alberts 13 2 3 5/13 3/9 0/0 1 35 0 0 0 0 2
R. Freeman 12 8 1 5/11 1/3 1/1 5 24 0 0 0 1 7
T. Yussuf 9 6 1 4/11 0/0 1/2 4 17 0 1 3 3 3
K. Byers 4 2 0 0/5 0/2 4/4 2 16 1 1 0 1 1
E. Maxhuni 2 3 2 1/6 0/2 0/0 1 20 1 0 2 1 2
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
J. Roberts 13 7 2 6/9 0/0 1/4 1 28 0 0 3 4 3
M. Riggins 5 6 0 2/4 0/0 1/3 2 24 0 0 1 2 4
J. Griffin 3 1 0 1/5 1/4 0/0 0 4 0 0 1 0 1
D. Cobb 3 4 2 1/4 0/1 1/2 1 19 0 0 0 0 4
D. Mims 1 1 2 0/1 0/1 1/2 4 8 0 0 0 1 0
B. Richard 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 3 1 0 0 0 0
B. Jackson 0 0 0 0/1 0/0 0/0 0 2 0 0 1 0 0
C. Slater - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Booker - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Apic - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 65 40 13 25/70 5/22 10/18 21 200 3 2 11 13 27
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
N. Rakocevic 19 12 2 7/17 0/0 5/6 3 32 1 2 2 2 10
D. Thornton 13 3 6 5/10 1/1 2/2 0 31 3 0 2 0 3
B. Boatwright 13 7 2 4/11 1/5 4/6 3 31 0 1 1 2 5
J. Mathews 11 4 1 5/12 1/3 0/0 1 36 0 0 0 2 2
S. Aaron 10 6 3 3/7 1/2 3/5 4 27 1 0 2 3 3
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
N. Rakocevic 19 12 2 7/17 0/0 5/6 3 32 1 2 2 2 10
D. Thornton 13 3 6 5/10 1/1 2/2 0 31 3 0 2 0 3
B. Boatwright 13 7 2 4/11 1/5 4/6 3 31 0 1 1 2 5
J. Mathews 11 4 1 5/12 1/3 0/0 1 36 0 0 0 2 2
S. Aaron 10 6 3 3/7 1/2 3/5 4 27 1 0 2 3 3
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
E. Weaver 6 2 3 2/3 2/2 0/0 3 17 1 0 3 1 1
J. Usher 3 2 2 1/4 1/1 0/0 2 19 0 1 1 0 2
V. Uyaelunmo 0 1 0 0/0 0/0 0/2 0 7 0 0 0 0 1
D. Fleming - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. O'Bannon Jr. - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Brooks - - - - - - - - - - - - -
K. Porter Jr. - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 75 37 19 27/64 7/14 14/21 16 200 6 4 11 10 27