LOS ANGELES (AP)—Southern California has two impressive freshmen.
Davon Jefferson, the lesser known of the pair, scored 23 points and O.J. Mayo, one of the highest profile recruits of recent years, took charge late in the game to lead the 22nd-ranked Trojans to a 66-55 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday night.
Jefferson had nine rebounds and was a steadying presence for USC until Mayo began to light it up. The Trojans had led by 15 points early in the second half, but the Sooners pulled within 43-40 with 9:22 remaining.
Mayo went on a roll where he scored 13 of USC’s 15 points, including 11 in a row, as the Trojans (6-1) opened a 60-48 lead with 2:35 left.
He kept the USC fans on their feet cheering as he scored on a couple of drives when he switched hands while in the air and laid the ball in, knocked down a 3-pointer and hit two medium-range jumpers.
Give an assist to the fans, USC coach Tim Floyd said.
“The crowd was outstanding for us tonight. I think our young players really needed it when they closed it to three points,” Floyd said. “Our guys played with a lot of emotion because of the crowd.”
Mayo, who scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half, said, “The crowd gave me a tremendous lift.”
“I wasn’t hitting any shots in the first half, but it didn’t really matter to me because of the lead we had going into the second half,” he said. “It’s all about winning.
“In the second half, I got the opportunities to get some easy baskets.”
Floyd said, “O.J. let the game come to him. He’s a great talent.”
Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said a poor first half hurt the Sooners.
“We knew that they were a talented team and have a lot of weapons,” he said. “In the second half, we started making some shots and getting in a rhythm.
“You’re not going to beat a good team like USC when you score 18 points in the first half.”
The Trojans were up 11 at halftime.
Keith Clark and Austin Johnson led Oklahoma (5-2) with 13 points apiece, but they were the only Sooners in double figures. Taylor Griffin had nine rebounds for Oklahoma.
The game was the first basketball meeting between the schools in 24 years. The last time the teams met, the Sooners won 92-91 on Nov. 25, 1983. USC’s victory in the long-delayed rematch evened the all-time series at five wins apiece.
USC limited the Sooners to 36 percent shooting from the field and the Trojans shot 44 percent. USC went 18-of-25 from the free throw line, while the Sooners shot just 11 and made five.
“We’re making more free throws than the other team is attempting, and that’s huge,” Floyd said.
Mayo made just one of eight shots and scored three points in the first half, but went 7-of-11 in the second.
The Trojans lost their only other home game this season, a 96-81 defeat to Mercer in the season opener.
Oklahoma was coming off a layoff following its rout of Morehead State on Nov. 21. The Sooners’ other this season was 63-53 to No. 3 Memphis on Nov. 15.