March 20, 2009
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Taj Gibson was a perfect 10 for Southern California, and way out of Boston College's league.
Gibson had 24 points on 10-for-10 shooting from the field, sending the 10th-seeded Trojans to a 69-55 victory over Boston College in the first round of the NCAA tournament Friday night.
Dwight Lewis had 20 points and DeMar DeRozan added 18 points and nine rebounds for USC (22-12), which maintained the momentum from last week's Pac-10 tournament title and advanced to Sunday's second round against the Robert Morris-Michigan State winner in the Midwest Region.
Gibson's perfect shooting was the second-best performance in NCAA tournament history with a minimum 10 attempts, behind Kentucky's Kenny Walker and his 11-for-11 in 1986. Gibson matched Marvin Barnes of Providence and Christian Laettner of Duke, who were 10-for-10 in 1973 and 1992, respectively.
Corey Raji led No. 7 seed Boston College (22-12) with 15 points. The Eagles made only one field goal in a dreadful stretch of nearly 13 minutes that ultimately sent them back to Beantown. Star guard Tyrese Rice went 1-for-6 from 3-point range and finished with nine points, and USC improved to 13-0 this season when holding an opponent under 60.
Trojans coach Tim Floyd credited the Eagles earlier in the week for their smart shot selection, but it didn't matter where or when the ball went up in the second half. It just wasn't going in.
Boston College, buried in a power-packed, sports-crazy market beneath all those trophies accumulated this decade by the Celtics, Patriots and Red Sox, once again arrived at the tournament without much buzz. Now in the tradition-cloaked Atlantic Coast Conference, it's even harder for the Eagles to distinguish themselves. Coming off a 14-17 season, they were picked to finish 11th out of 12 in the ACC last fall.
Even as the higher seed in this game, they weren't the favorite. Most people, except for the president, were impressed enough with USC's romp through the Pac-10 tournament to pick the Trojans as one of the teams poised to sneak through a round or two on this side of the bracket.
Boston College coach Al Skinner is as uninterested in external perceptions as anyone, though. Despite an up-and-down season lacking a defining victory on the road and lowlighted by a home loss to Harvard, he deftly guided the Eagles to the tournament for the seventh time in nine years behind the quick bursts and crisp passing of Rice.
Every time USC made a charge, BC was able to regroup and rebound. But as the midpoint of the second half passed, the Trojans created some separation.