Okongwu's double-double leads USC past Portland 76-65
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By BETH HARRIS
LOS ANGELES (AP) Fouls were the only thing that stopped Onyeka Okongwu. Portland's defense couldn't do it.
He had 20 points and 10 rebounds to help Southern California pull away to a 76-65 victory over Portland on Friday night.
Okongwu had 20 points, 13 rebounds and a school-record-tying eight blocks in a season-opening win over Florida A&M, becoming the first freshman to post a double-double in his debut since Taj Gibson in 2006.
He only played six minutes in the first half and scored six points after getting two fouls.
After picking up his third foul early in the second half, Okongwu was dynamic down the stretch for the Trojans (2-0), who found themselves in a 48-all tie. They never gave up the lead, but the Pilots (1-1) stayed within two until Okongwu took over.
"He's what we call TC - a tough cover," Pilots coach Terry Porter said. "His size, his motor, his athleticism. He's so quick to the ball. He just never quits."
Okongwu scored six points in a 9-0 spurt that extended USC's lead to 63-52. His best move was a dunk after teammate Quinton Adlesh got blocked, USC controlled the rebound and got the ball to Okongwu to finish with a flourish.
In all, Okongwu scored 12 of USC's final 19 points. He helped the Trojans dominate the boards, 42-27.
"Sometimes he didn't even get it," Porter said. "He kept it alive and one of the other guys got it."
Okongwu was one of four USC starters in double figures. Freshman Ethan Anderson had 10 assists.
Grad transfer Isaiah White led the Pilots with 22 points, making six of their 13 3-pointers.
White hit consecutive 3-pointers to open the second half. Malcolm Porter's left-handed drive across the lane tied the game 48-all, but the Pilots' shooting cooled off over the final minutes.
"They're deep, they're big and they're athletic," White said. "The name of the game was rebounding, and we weren't able to keep them off."
The Trojans had 20 turnovers and the Pilots had 17. All but two players on each team had at least one miscue. Okongwu had four for USC, as did Jacob Tryon for Portland.
"We made some uncharacteristic passes and poor decisions," USC coach Andy Enfield said.
Portland: The Pilots are getting offense from nearly everyone in their lineup. They return two starters, nine lettermen and have added five newcomers to a team that was picked to finish 10th in the West Coast Conference. Among their top scorers is Michael Porter, whose father is the Pilots coach and a former NBA player.
USC: The Trojans started slowly before putting together a big second-half that resulted in a 29-point, season-opening win against Florida A&M. Okongwu didn't come close to matching the near-triple-double he put up in his debut, but he is already living up to the hype that accompanied him from high school. Fellow freshman Isaiah Mobley has been impressive in the early going, too, and the Trojans are showing depth and versatility that should take them far. "That's a very good basketball team with a lot of talent," Porter said. "They're going to surprise a lot of people in the Pac-12."
Portland: Visits San Jose State on Sunday in the second of three road games among their first five contests.
USC: Hosts South Dakota State on Tuesday in third straight home game to open season.
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Updated November 9, 2019