Los Angeles, CA (U-WIRE) -- The USC men's basketball team might have wanted to flee town after falling to Cal State Northridge Sunday at the Sports Arena. A Thanksgiving trip to Alaska will have to do for now as the Trojans head to Anchorage for the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaskan Shootout, which begins Wednesday.
The Trojans (0-1) will open the Shootout against Oral Roberts (0-1), which also lost a season-opening home-court heartbreaker in overtime as the Golden Eagles fell to Utah State on Saturday, 72-67. The game will tip off at the University of Alaska-Anchorage's Sullivan Arena at 8:30 p.m. PST and will be televised live nationwide on ESPN2.
USC coach Tim Floyd said after Sunday's loss that Oral Roberts was an even better team than Cal State Northridge. The Golden Eagles finished with a 25-8 record last season and were the Mid-Continent Conference champions.
Oral Roberts is directed by coach Scott Sutton, the son of Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton, and returns its top two scorers from last season.
Forward Caleb Green led the Golden Eagles last year by scoring 19.4 points per game and grabbing 9.3 rebounds per game. Green scored 14 points in Saturday's loss to Utah State as he was limited to just 26 minutes because of foul trouble.
Ken Tutt, a 6-foot-1 guard, tallied 17.1 points per game last year and scored a team-high 23 points in the Golden Eagles' opener. The junior guard shot nine-of-28 from the floor in that game and made just three-of-11 three-point shots.
The Trojans will likely look to get usually sharp-shooting guard Gabe Pruitt the ball in the early going Wednesday night after USC's leading scorer last season went 0-for-10 from three-point range in the opener. Pruitt, who made 45 percent of his three-pointers last season, made just three-of-20 shots overall and finished with 10 points.
When asked after the Northridge game if Pruitt simply had an off night, Floyd said, "I hope it was an off night for Gabe, but I loved every shot he took."
Floyd said, however, that he didn't like every shot taken by the Trojans on Sunday and wanted to see his team drive more aggressively to the basket.
"We took too many threes. I want us to make more free throws than they shoot free throws. When we got to the line, we didn't make them," he said.
Forward RouSean Cromwell will look to build on his promising performance in his first collegiate game, in which he scored 17 points and hauled in 12 rebounds in 35 minutes off the bench. Floyd laid off the superlatives and didn't say whether the freshman had earned a starting role but said he was "pleased" with Cromwell's debut performance against the Matadors.
Cromwell was a McDonalds All-American nominee last year and was ranked as the No. 14 center prospect in the nation by ScoutHoops.com before signing with the Trojans.
His 12 rebounds on Sunday were the most by a USC freshman since Sam Clancy had 14 on Feb. 6, 1999.
Marquette (1-1) and Eastern Washington (1-0) are also on the Trojans' side of the Great Alaskan Shootout bracket, which allows for every team to play three games.
Marquette has been powered by freshman guard Dominic James in the season's first two games. James averaged 15.5 points and eight assists in the Pepsi Blue & Gold Classic and earned a spot on the All-Tournament team.
Eastern Washington scored 31 fast-break points in a season-opening 89-63 win over Pacific Lutheran on Saturday. Freshman guard Kellen Williams led the attack, finishing with 14 points and 10 assists.
Despite USC's opening loss to a team that few would call a "name" program, Floyd remained optimistic with a challenging week ahead.
"I'm not feeling very good after the loss," Floyd said. "But it's great to be back in college. This is a great job."
The rest of the Shootout field is composed of Alaska Anchorage, South Carolina, Monmouth and Southern Illinois.
(C) 2004 Daily Trojan via U-WIRE