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Florence helps Mercer shock Southern California

Nov 11, 2007 - 3:25 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- The sun was shining in Southern California, but not on O.J. Mayo and the Trojans.

James Florence scored 30 points and Shaddean Aaron added 13 to lead Mercer to a 96-81 shocking upset of 18th-ranked USC on Saturday.

Florence shot 11-of-23 from the floor and scored 21 of his 30 points in the second half.

Mercer, which went 13-17 last season, is from the Atlantic Sun Conference, which now has two upsets of ranked teams to its credit. Fellow conference member Gardner-Webb stunned No. 20 Kentucky on Wednesday.

"There's no way to describe it," Florence said.

"The Kentucky result was on our mind," USC's Taj Gibson said. "We knew this was a dangerous team."

A highly touted freshman, Mayo scored 32 points and was 12-of-27 from the floor, but struggled in the first half as the Trojans dug themselves a 17-point hole.

"It was tough, but they did a great job," Mayo said. "We need to come out and respect our opponent and play hard. We came out nonchalantly."

Southern California shot just 28 percent (10-of-35) and trailed, 47-30, after 20 minutes. Mayo was just 3-of-11 for seven points at intermission.

The Trojans opened the second half on a 20-3 run to pull within 53-50 at the 13:30 mark. Mayo showed why he was so highly coveted coming out of high school by scoring 12 points during the run.

"We felt like they were going to go to him early," Mercer coach Mark Slonaker said. "We kept telling the guys, 'Weather the storm and keep attacking.' You know SC was going to make a run, but we held them off. That shows maturity."

The Bears pulled away with a 19-9 run to stretch the lead to 72-60 with seven minutes to play. They led by double digits the rest of the way.

Brian Pfohl scored 12 for the Bears, who shot 59 percent (38-of-64) from the floor and never trailed in the second half.

Dwight Lewis scored 15 for Southern California, which shot 40 percent (28-of-70) from the floor.

USC has lost three straight openers under coach Tim Floyd.

"We got tired and couldn't sustain any effort for any long period of time," Floyd said. "The 47 points we gave up in both halves was very discouraging. That is somewhat reflecting of what we have been experiencing in practice. We are a team of two juniors and three sophomores who played a year ago. Our freshmen are not ready yet."

    --- --- -----
    MERCER 47 49 96
    USC (18) 30 51 81 FINAL

    Nov 10 5:57 PM

    MERCER 47
    (18) USC 30 HALFTIME

    Nov 10 4:51 PM