LOS ANGELES (AP) — Onyeka Okongwu had 20 points and 10 rebounds and Southern California pulled away to beat Portland 76-65 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 was dynamic down the stretch for the Trojans (2-0), who found themselves in a 48-all tie early in the second half. They never gave up the lead, but the Pilots (1-1) stayed within two until Okongwu took over.
He scored six points in a 9-0 spurt that extended USC’s lead to 63-52. Okongwu’s 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 had 12 of USC’s final 19 points. He helped the Trojans dominate the boards, 42-27.
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.
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 Porter, son of Pilots coach and former NBA player Terry Porter.
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.
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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