Sophomore De'Anthony Melton spent the game on the bench in street clothes, held out amid the ongoing internal investigation into potential NCAA violations stemming from the FBI's arrest of assistant coach Tony Bland in September.
"We're hopeful he'll be back on the court very soon," USC head coach Andy Enfield said. "Unfortunately, as head basketball coach, I don't know all the answers and I don't know a lot of the information. My job is to coach this basketball team...and I just can't comment."
The rest of the Trojans sans Melton used a stifling defense and 10 made 3-pointers to power past overmatched Cal State Fullerton.
USC (1-0) held the visiting Titans to just 23.3 percent shooting and turned 21 turnovers into 17 points. USC complemented that defensive effort with 41.7 percent shooting from 3-point range.
Six Trojans made 3-pointers, paced by guard Derryck Thornton's trey off the bench. Forwards Chimezie Metu and Bennie Boatwright made two each.
The pace was set early when, after missing a few looks near the rim, USC scored its first two baskets from long range. The Trojans took the lead then and never trailed.
Metu led all scorers with 18 points and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds to go with two blocked shots. Metu's interior presence helped USC to a 28-18 advantage in points in the paint, and he was also 2-of-2 at the free-throw line. USC shot 72 percent from the line as a team.
Enfield said Metu improved his mid-range and free-throw shooting last season, and the forward's emphasis heading into 2017-18 was on a more consistent outside touch. His 2-of-2 3-point shooting Friday is a good start.
"Chimezie's been shooting the ball really well from 3(-point range) in practice and our scrimmages. His rotation looks great, his form," Enfield said. "I give our assistants a lot of credit, and Chimezie. He's a workaholic."
Boatwright summarized the evolution of Metu's game with the added element in more simple terms.
"You can't guard him," he said.
Boatwright scored 13 points, blocked three shots and grabbed six rebounds, while Thornton's 11 points led USC's total of 24 off the bench.
"He's really fast," Metu said of Thornton. "When you kick the ball up to him, he's already out there (on the fast break), so we play in transition more."
Guards Jordan McLaughlin and Jonah Mathews added 12 and 11 points, respectively, rounding out USC's five double-figure scoring performances. McLaughlin also dished a game-high six assists and pulled in six rebounds.
Guard Shaqquan Aaron scored seven points before fouling out.
Forward Jackson Rowe led Cal State Fullerton (0-1) with 12 points and eight rebounds.
"I'm just worried about the team right now; not myself," Rowe said. "There's a lot of stuff we have to do to step up together."
Guard Khalil Ahmad scored nine points and grabbed six rebounds. Guard Kyle Allman and forward Arkim Robertson both scored five points.
NOTES: The 21 Cal State Fullerton turnovers USC forced were the most for a Trojans' team since generating 23 against Wichita State in November 2015. ... Cal State Fullerton's 23.3 field-goal percentage marked the Titans' worst since shooting 25.6 percent from the floor on Nov. 25, 2016, vs. Jacksonville State. ... USC F Chimezie Metu recorded his eighth career double-double. ... USC's 41.7 percent shooting from 3-point range outpaced the Trojans' cumulative field-goal percentage of 41.2.