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Mayo struggles early, still leads USC over Oklahoma

Nov 30, 2007 - 7:16 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Despite struggling early, Oklahoma couldn't find a way to silence O.J. Mayo for 40 minutes.

Mayo scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half to help lift 24th-ranked USC to a 66-55 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday night.

Davon Jefferson scored 23 points and pulled down nine rebounds to lead the Trojans, who have won six straight after suffering a season-opening setback to Mercer.

"We're continuing to do things that are helping us," USC coach Tim Floyd said. "We're making more free throws than the other team is attempting, night in and night out, is huge for us. We are growing as an offensive team. We are rebounding it better. ... Our team continued to play unselfishly and I just like their commitment to the defensive end."

Mayo, perhaps the most talented freshman in the country, was just 1-of-8 from the field in the first half.

"I wasn't hitting any shots in the first half," Mayo said. "It really didn't matter to me because of the great lead we had going in at halftime. It's all about winning.

"They did a great job on defense on me in the first half. That's Ok because if you kill me, we have four other players on the floor that can pick it up for me."

But the freshman forward Jefferson, who was 7-of-12 from the field in the game and missed just two of his 11 free throws, scored 14 points in the first to help USC take a 29-18 lead into the locker room.

"We picked it up a lot on the defensive end," Jefferson said. "I know I am just playing hard and getting better in practice every day."

Oklahoma began the second half on a 25-18 run, narrowing the Trojans lead to four with just under eight minutes to play.

After a layup by Keith Wilkinson extended USC's lead to six, Mayo scored 11 straight points for the Trojans (6-1), giving them a 60-48 which they did not relinquish.

Mayo finished 8-of-20 from the floor with just one 3-pointer in 38 minutes.

But the USC defense held Oklahoma to just 35.6 percent shooting and won the battle on the glass, pulling down eight more rebounds.

"I think we are getting better every day," Mayo said. "I really do. On the defensive end we are getting so much better and that is our system. Coach wants us to be a defensive team. The more we play defense the more opportunities to get the ball and score."

Keith Clark and Austin Johnson each scored 13 points to lead the Sooners (4-2), who dropped their second straight game against a ranked opponent after falling to No. 3 Memphis in the semifinals of the 2K Sports College Hoop Classic on November 15.

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    OKLAHOMA 18 37 55
    USC (24) 29 37 66 FINAL

    Nov 30 12:56 AM

    (24) USC 29 HALFTIME

    Nov 29 11:50 PM