Marcus Johnson contributed 19 points and nine rebounds to help USC beat UNLV 67-56 Friday night in the Diamond Head Classic final.

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HONOLULU — Marcus Johnson contributed 19 points and nine rebounds to help USC beat UNLV 67-56 Friday night in the Diamond Head Classic final.

Johnson, a 6-foot-6, 210-pound senior forward, was 8 of 14 from the field. Dwight Lewis added 14 points for the Trojans (8-4), and tournament most valuable player Mike Gerrity scored 13 points.

Oscar Bellfield led UNLV (12-2) with 17 points. The Rebels shot 34 percent (17 of 50) from the field, going 5 of 22 from three-point range.

USC had a 12-0 run late in the half, capped by Lewis’ layup, and the Trojans had a 39-25 lead at the break. The Trojans led by 19 points late in the second half.

In the third-place game, Omar Samhan scored 24 points as Saint Mary’s beat Hawaii 84-75.

Mickey McConnell scored 17 points for the Gaels (11-2).

Dwain Williams, a transfer from Providence, led Hawaii (6-6) with 36 points.

Big Ten to start

conference play Tuesday

Big Ten basketball is back — conference games start Tuesday with Purdue at Iowa and Penn State at Minnesota — and that leads to an annual holiday-season question:

How good is the Big Ten?

“I think our league has done a good job, but not a great one,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “There are some games a couple teams would like to have back. There were a couple of games we surprised some people. I think we’re in a good position.”

Three Big Ten teams are ranked — No. 4 Purdue (11-0), No. 9 Michigan State (9-3) and No. 17 Ohio State (10-2). The Buckeyes might become more formidable when standout guard Evan Turner returns from a back injury.

Purdue and Michigan State loom as the favorites, with Ohio State, Wisconsin and Illinois seemingly the biggest threats.

“Purdue has veteran guys, and they’re playing like that,” Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. “Michigan State has some talented guys, but they’ve changed some roles, added some new guys and had a few ups and downs.

“It’s as competitive as we thought it would be.”