The USC Trojans men's basketball team started its Brazilian exhibition tour on a winning foot with a win over Pindamonhangaba.
Playing at Centro Esportivo in Pindamonhangaba, Brazil, on Sunday, the Trojans held off the home team to capture a 60-51 victory, with senior guard Jio Fontan leading the way with a game-high 29 points.
Fontan, who will likely pair with Maurice Jones to make up the USC backcourt in 2011-12, scored 19 of his 29 points in the first half to pace the way for the Trojans.
Head coach Kevin O'Neill talked about the team's performance after the exhibition, calling it somewhat of a mixed-bag.
"We didn't play particularly well, but I thought we played well defensively," said O'Neill. "We played hard, but we have a lot of things to work on."
Sophomore forward-center Dewayne Dedmon, one of the summer's hottest stories, made his long-awaited debut for the Trojans, but he was limited for most of the game due to foul trouble and scored just four points on two dunks.
As the exhibition opener exposed, USC's two biggest question marks for the upcoming season revolve around depth and size.
Sophomore forward-center Curtis Washington will miss the season after tearing his labrum last week and three players, Alexis Moore, Byron Wesley and Greg Allen, are currently waiting for their summer grades to be cleared, limiting the Trojans to just seven players against Pindamonhangaba.
While Moore, Wesley and Allen are expected to contribute this season, USC's frontcourt is limited in the wake of Washington's injury.
Beyond Dedmon and redshirt junior center James Blasczyk, who had just 2 points in the exhibition, the Trojans may be forced to rely on undersized players for frontcourt contributions.
Those contribution may come from Aaron Fuller and Garrette Jackson, two 6-foot-6 forwards, who showed signs of being up to the task in the Brazilian opener.
Fuller had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Jackson added 8 points and a team-high 11 rebounds in the victory.
Next up on the Brazil trip, the Trojans will scrimmage against Sao Jose dos Campos on Monday. According to ESPN's Pedro Moura, the two scrimmaging teams are not expected to keep score, which would allow Moore, Wesley and Allen to participate.
On Tuesday, USC will square off against Division I team Mogi das Cruzes before heading to Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday.
© 2011 Neal J. Leitereg -- All Rights Reserved