LOS ANGELES (AP) — Junior Nick Rakocevic scored 19 points and had 12 rebounds to lead a balanced USC Trojans squad to a 75-65 victory over the Long Beach State 49ers Wednesday night.
All five starters for USC (5-2) scored 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.
The Trojans looked like they might run away the game early in the second half, building a 14-point lead at 47-33.
But the 49ers got back in the game by scoring the next 10 consecutive points. They pulled within two three different times but could never catch the Trojans.
Rakocevic scored 13 of his points in the game’s final nine minutes.
Both team struggled from the field in the first half.
USC led 36-28 at the break despite shooting just 40.6 percent, building the bulk of its lead on a pair of late 3-pointers. Long Beach shot only 31.4 percent in the first half.
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.
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.
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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