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USC Fires Kevin O'Neill

Kevin O'Neill's tenure at USC has been a head-scratcher, and ended today.
Kevin O'Neill's tenure at USC has been a head-scratcher, and ended today.
(Getty image.)

USC has fired mens' head basketball coach Kevin O'Neill, naming assistant Bob Cantu as the interim coach while the school conducts a search for a permanent replacement.

USC hosts the Oregon schools this week, with the Ducks visiting Thursday night, and the Beavers Saturday evening.

O'Neill has coached the Trojans for the last 3 1/2 seasons, taking over a program facing NCAA sanctions, including scholarship reductions.

USC is currently the only Pac-12 team with a sub .500 record, at 7-10. The Trojans have split both of their first two conference series, first against the Bay area schools, and then at the intermountain teams, with a 76-59 win at Utah in their last game. USC had lost 14 consecutive road games before that. The Trojans are currently tied with California for 6th in the Pac-12.

Injuries and defections contributed to a 6-26 2011-12 campaign for the Trojans, and many USC fans and some in the media were calling for O'Neill's replacement in the offseason. While the Trojans have improved this season, it hasn't been by all that much, prompting USC Athletic Director Pat Haden to make a move mid-season.

Cantu is in his 12th season with the USC men's basketball program, and has coached for 17 seasons at the collegiate level. Cantu also was thrust into the head coaching role for the Trojans in the 2011 conference tournament semi-finals, after a suspension of O'Neill, a game USC lost 67-62 to Arizona.

With only 1 player averaging in double figures at anything (Eric Wise 11.9 points per game), the Trojans are 257th in the country in points per game, in large part due to being 198th in shooting, 199th in assists, and 187th in rebounding. This despite having 7' Dewayne Dedmon in the lineup, though USC is an otherwise short squad, with no other starter, and only 1 player in their regular 9 man rotation, that is taller than 6'6".

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com