LOS ANGELES -- Nikola Vucevic scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half and Southern California defeated UC Irvine 62-49 in its season opener Saturday.
Vucevic and frontcourt mate Alex Stepheson helped the Trojans dominate the boards 47-26, with Vucevic snagging 14 rebounds and Stepheson 13 to go with six points. Bryce Jones added 14 points, including three 3-pointers, and Maurice Jones, who is not related, had 13 points.
The Trojans got started on a season in which they have something to play for after sitting out the postseason in March because of school-imposed sanctions relating to O.J. Mayo's stint with the team.
Vucevic was big on the boards in the first half, when he scored only two points. He started the second half with a 3-pointer. His highlight play came when he grabbed a missed 3-point attempt as it skimmed across the basket and slammed it in one-handed, extending USC's lead to 51-38.