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Bronny James makes college debut in loss for USC nearly 5 months after cardiac arrest

CORRECTS TO SECOND HALF NOT FIRST HALF - Southern California guard Bronny James, left, passes the ball as his father LeBron James, right, watches during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Long Beach State, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Bronny James had four points, three rebounds and two assists in his college debut for Southern California on Sunday, coming off the bench nearly five months after he suffered cardiac arrest to play in front of his superstar father LeBron James.

The Trojans lost in overtime to Long Beach State, 84-79. James walked off with his deflated teammates and didn’t greet his father who sat courtside.

James logged 16 minutes, including starting the five-minute extra session, but he wasn’t a factor then before coming out for the last time. He was 1 of 3 shooting, hitting a 3-pointer in the second half.

All of James’ rebounds came on the defensive glass. He also had two steals.

James was quick to pass to his teammates, even when it appeared he could have taken a shot.

He played six minutes in the first half, when the Trojans led 45-30 at the break. In his second three-minute stint, James made a huge block on Jadon Jones, who was streaking to the basket on a fastbreak, riling up the fans.

James assisted on a dunk by Vincent Iwuchukwu, who also suffered cardiac arrest as a freshman. He returned to play 14 games last season.

James entered the game for the first time about seven minutes in, with some in the crowd standing and cheering. He missed his first shot, a 3-point attempt. Moments before, he tipped the ball away from a Long Beach State player, but the visitors got it back. The possession ended in a shot-clock violation for the Beach. James also snagged a rebound.

LeBron James arrived seconds before the national anthem, holding hands with 9-year-old daughter, Zhuri, and tapped his son’s rear as he passed the Trojans who were lined up across the court for the anthem.

The NBA was well-represented in the game. One of James’ teammates is DJ Rodman, the son of Dennis Rodman. The Beach’s roster includes Chayce Polynice, the son of 15-year NBA veteran Olden Polynice.

James joined his teammates for on-court warmups 90 minutes before tipoff. Wearing a white USC shirt and red sweatpants, he took a variety of jumpers under the watchful lenses of a baseline full of photographers.

Students lined up around one side of Galen Center and down an adjacent street waiting to get inside. Although there were pockets of empty seats in the 10,258-seat arena, James’ debut helped the Trojans draw their largest crowd yet this season.

James suffered cardiac arrest on July 20 during a workout at Galen Center. He was found to have a congenital heart defect that was treatable.

James was recently cleared by his doctors and USC’s medical staff to participate in full-contact practice. Previously, he had been limited to working out on his own doing weights, cardio and shooting.

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball