Southern California's Elijah Stewart, left, fouls Akron's Deji Ibitayo as he goes up for a shot in the first half at the Charleston Classic NCAA college basketball tournament in Charleston, S.C.,Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)
Mic Smith
November 20, 2014

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) Akron coach Keith Dambrot says he's got a new problem to consider with the Zips' early success this season.

''We've handled adversity. Now, we've got to see how we handle prosperity,'' he said, with a smile.

Akron got 15 points each from Kwan Cheatham and Pat Forsythe and 14 from Noah Robotham to defeat Southern Cal 66-46 on Thursday to start the Charleston Classic.

It's Akron's first game since losing senior forward Demetrius ''Tree'' Treadwell to an indefinite school suspension for violating the athlete code of conduct. Dambrot was unsure when Treadwell's situation would be resolved.

''Whether we have him or not, we still have enough parts to be a good team,'' Dambrot said.

That was quickly evident against Southern Cal.

The Zips, who moved to 2-0 for just the fourth time in Dambrot's 11 seasons, will face the winner of the Miami-Drexel game on Friday. It was also the fourth straight season they've knocked off a member of one of the Power Five conferences.

''We know as a squad we can compete with a high major,'' said Cheatham, who added seven rebounds and two assists. ''We always come in like, `This is the game we've got to get.'''

The Zips may have some more opportunities given the Charleston Classic field, which includes Miami of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Penn State of the Big Ten Conference and South Carolina of the Southeastern Conference.

''We'll be ready,'' Cheatham said.

Southern Cal (1-2) cut Akron's 17-point lead down to 47-40 on Nikola Jovanovic's basket with 10 minutes left. That's when Antino Jackson hit two straight 3-pointers to give the Zips back their comfortable lead.

Jovanovic had 11 points to lead the Trojans, who shot just 28.3 percent (15 of 53) for the game.

Cheatham and Forsythe took control in the middle without Treadwell, who had 10 points and 13 rebounds in Akron's opening win over Maryland-Baltimore County last Friday night.

Akron, the only Mid-American Conference team to win 20 games each of the last nine seasons, was seeking another victory over a Power Five conference school - it has beating one in each of the past three seasons - and got going in a hurry. Cheatham and Robotham had 3-pointers as the Zips led 8-2 in the first three minutes.

After Southern Cal closed to 18-14 on Jovanovic's basket, Akron took off on an 18-8 run powered by the inside power of Forsythe and the outside shooting of Cheatham and Robotham.

Forsythe scored six points in the run while Cheatham and Robotham each added another long-range basket. When Robotham broke free for an easy layup with 13 seconds left, Akron was up 36-22.

GAME CHANGER

Southern Cal looked like it had momentum with a 10-0 run midway through the second half. But Trojans coach Andy Enfield said a poorly timed 3-point attempt by Jordan McLaughlin and soft defense on Antino Jackson's two 3s stopped their run cold. ''I would hope he'll understand that we don't have to score on the first shot,'' he said. ''We're allowed to pass the ball.''

BAD SHOOTING

Part of Southern Cal's problems came from off-target outside shooting. Starters Katin Reinhardt and Jordan McLaughlin were a combined 4 of 19 overall from the floor and 0-of-8 from behind the arc.

TIP-INS

Southern Cal: The Trojans have no seniors and just three juniors on their 14-man roster. Southern Cal started three freshmen and two sophomores against the Zips.

Akron: The Zips have posted wins over Power Five conference members in each of previous three seasons, winning at Mississippi State in 2011-12, Penn State the following year and Oregon State last season.

UP NEXT

Southern Cal will play Drexel in the second round Friday.

Akron will play Miami in the second round Friday.

You May Like