Nick Rakocevic recorded a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds, and USC held off Florida Gulf Coast, 71-58, on Sunday at Galen Center.
USC (11-2) led most of the way, facing the program its coach, Andy Enfield, managed to the Sweet 16 in 2013. The 2013 Eagles became the first and only No. 15 seed to advance to the NCAA Tournament’s second weekend.
That team gained the nickname Dunk City for its high-flying style, a brand of basketball Enfield has worked to instill at USC. On Sunday, free throws played a more critical role for the Trojans than dunks.
USC went 16-of-23 from the foul line, compared with just 1-of-6 for Florida Gulf Coast.
The Eagles (3-12) made as many field goals as the Trojans with 24.
Swapping Dunk City for more of a jump shot-based scoring approach, Florida Gulf Coast made 9-of-28 3-pointers. Sam Gagliardi led the Eagles with three 3-pointers for a team-high 10 points.
Nine Eagles scored, among them Caleb Catto with nine points. Catto also made five steals and dished seven assists.
Florida Gulf Coast hung around despite trailing much of the night, keeping the deficit to single digits for most of the way until the closing minutes. Almost every time the Trojans appeared poised to pull away, the Eagles responded.
USC gradually extended the lead down the stretch. Rakocevic led three Trojans scoring in double-figures, which included a thunderous transition dunk late in the game, set up by a Daniel Utomi.
As a team, USC garnered 11 steals. Rakocevic led the way with three. Florida Gulf Coast came away with 14 steals, but only managed 15 points off turnovers.
Utomi hit 3-of-7 3-pointers for 13 points. Jonah Matthews scored 10 points. Isaiah Mobley finished with eight points and seven rebounds, but accounted for five of USC’s seven missed free throws.
—Field Level Media