Men's Basketball Hosts BYU

Dec. 3, 2004

Los Angeles -

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The USC men's basketball team (1-2) looks to get back on the winning track as it returns home to the Sports Arena to take on Brigham Young (1-4) on Saturday, Dec. 4 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Two years removed from back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances and 20-win seasons but coming off of a 13-15 season in 2004, ninth-year coach Henry Bibby's Trojans return seven lettermen, including four starters, and welcome a top-10 recruiting class made up of three talented freshmen, plus a junior-college transfer.

GAME #4 -- USC vs. BYU (1-4) at the Sports Arena on Saturday (Dec. 4) at 7:30 p.m. (PT). It will be telecast live on Fox Sports Net 2 and broadcast live on KMPC-AM 1540 in Los Angeles, KSPA 1510 in Ontario/Orange County and XEMM 800 in San Diego. Steve Cleveland is in his eighth year as coach of the Cougars. His squad lost four starters from last year's team that went 21-9. BYU is led by senior guard Mike Hall (14.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg), senior center Jared Jensen (11.0 ppg) and sophomore forward Keena Young (7.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg). The Cougars opened their season at the Maui Invitational, falling to top-10 ranked North Carolina and Stanford before beating Chaminade. BYU then dropped games against California and Utah State. USC is 4-3 lifetime against BYU, the most recent meeting a 85-61 Cougar win last season in Provo. The Trojans last beat BYU in 2000 at the Yahoo Invitational, 70-67.

ROAD TRIP REPORT -- The Trojans return to the Sports Arena after going 0-2 on their first road trip of the season. USC was overwhelmed by No. 11 North Carolina in Chapel Hill on Sunday (Nov. 28), 97-65. It was the worst road loss for USC since a 111-68 defeat at the hands of Stanford in 2000. Jawad Williams led five Tar Heels in double figures with 23 points, while Raymond Felton dished out 12 assists. Senior forward Jeff McMillan led USC with 10 points (he was the only Trojan to reach double figures in scoring). It didn't get any easier the following Tuesday (Nov. 30) when USC lost at La Salle, 71-62. Senior center Rory O'Neil led the Trojans with 18 points and 11 rebounds, but the Trojans fell behind at the half, 33-18, and never recovered. A five-point margin was as close as it got the rest of the way for Troy, which shot just 37% from the field. Steven Smith led the Explorers with a career-best 27 points.

UP NEXT FOR THE TROJANS -- The Trojans host Fresno St. on Dec. 8 (Wed.) and then travel south to play at the University of San Diego on Dec. 11 (Sat.), before returning home to face Western Michigan on Dec. 18 (Sat.). Troy will then head to Honolulu on Dec. 19 to participate in the Rainbow Classic, along with Indiana St., Georgetown, Alabama-Birmingham, Hawaii, Clemson, Long Beach St. and Oral Roberts.

McMILLAN OUT -- Senior forward Jeff McMillan--last year's Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year--is out for 4-6 weeks due to a broken left hand, which he injured in the Trojans' first possession against La Salle. Look for senior Gregg Guenther and freshman Emanuel Willis to fill in at the power forward spot.

GABE MAKES HIS MARK -- A check of the records indicates that when Gabe Pruitt co-led the Trojans in scoring against UC Irvine with 13 points, it was the first time since the advent of freshmen eligibility that a freshman had led the Trojans in scoring in a season opener. But Pruitt wasn't just a one-game wonder. He currently leads the team in FG% (.600), 3-point FG% (.455) and steals (2.3) and is tied for the team lead in minutes (24.7 mpg), FT% (a perfect 3 for 3) and assists (2.3 per game). He is also second on the squad in scoring at 10.7 points per game

SLOW STARTS -- USC has been getting off to some slow starts so far this season. Through three games, the Trojans are falling behind by an average score of 42-27 at halftime. Troy does much better in the second half, outscoring opponents, 45-37.

SURGING STEALS -- USC led the Pac-10 in steals last year with an average of 8.89 steals per game. So far this year, the Trojans are averaging 11.7 steals per game, which is on pace to be the school record and second-best steals average in Pac-10 history (the record is 12.04 per game by ASU in 1992-93).

SENIORITIS -- The Trojans are blessed with six seniors--guards Errick and Derrick Craven, and forwards Rory O'Neil, Jeff McMillan, Nick Curtis and Greg Guenther--the most of any team in the Pac-10. Between the six of them, they have played 9,952 minutes, scored 3,509 points, snagged 1,955 rebounds and dished out 607 assists in their careers.

GROOVY NEWBIES -- It didn't take long for USC's recruiting class--ranked as high as seventh nationally by one publication--to make an impact in 2004-2005. In Troy's first game against UC Irvine, the four Trojan newcomers (guards Gabe Pruitt and Dwayne Shackleford and forwards Nick Young and Emanuel Willis) combined for 29 points, 5 assists and 6 steals in 52 total minutes played. Pruitt and Shackleford alone accounted for 25 of those points on 10 of 14 shooting (71%). While the going was much rougher against North Carolina and La Salle, the group still combined for 18 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists and 6 steals against the Tar Heels and 24 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals against the Explorers.

ROAD STREAKS -- Before the losses to UNC and La Salle, the last time USC dropped two non-conference road games in a row was in 2002 against Rhode Island and UC Santa Barbara.

HOME NON-CONFERENCE MARK UNDER BIBBY -- The Trojans are 31-5 in non-conference games at the Sports Arena under Henry Bibby, a stretch that included 24 in a row from 1999-2003. USC was 3-2 in non-conference home games last season.

FIRST GAME BALANCING ACT -- The Trojans had six players score in double figures in the season opening win at home against UCI. That was the first time that had happened since six Trojans hit double figures against Oregon in 2002 in Pac-10 tournament play. What's more, USC was just a hair away from seven players in double figures, as Rory O'Neil finished with nine points.

DOUBLE-DOUBLE TO GO -- Forward Jeff McMillan is putting together a fine portfolio of double-doubles. After scoring 12 points and getting 12 rebounds against UCI, he now has 11 double-doubles in his career.

SCARCITIES -- There's no doubt that the Trojans have a lot of depth this season, which has resulted in fewer minutes and shots to go around. In three games thus far, only two players--Rory O'Neil and Jeff McMillan--have logged more than 30 minutes in a game. Only one Trojan (O'Neil) has attempted more than 10 field goals in a game. He's also the only Trojan to score more than 13 points in a game this season.

19,995's A CROWD -- That's the number of spectators who were in the stands to watch USC play North Carolina. It was the second-largest regular season crowd in Trojan history, with the crowd for the 1986 USC-Syracuse game being the largest (27,610).

THE FIRST WIN -- The Trojans tipped off their season with a 90-70 win at home against UC Irvine on Monday, Nov. 22. Freshman guard Gabe Pruitt and senior guard Errick Craven each scored 13 points to lead six Trojans in double figures. Senior forward Jeff McMillan added 12 rebounds to go with his 12 points, while junior guard Dwayne Shackleford added 12 points, including three 3-point FGs. The Trojans trailed by one point at the intermission but took control in the second half, outscoring the Anteaters, 54-33. Troy was a blistering 13 of 24 from 3-point land (.542%), its best long-range shooting since hitting 10 of 16 threes (.625) against Washington St. in 2002.

USC PICKED TO FINISH SIXTH IN MEDIA POLL -- USC was picked to finish sixth in the Pac-10 media poll on Nov. 4. Arizona was picked first with 19 first-place votes and 253 points. Washington (seven first-place votes and 237 points) was second and Stanford was third (194 points). Oregon was fourth (167), followed by UCLA (156), USC (116), California (87), Oregon State (86), Washington State (73) and Arizona State (64).

1997 REDUX? -- In 1997, Henry Bibby's first year as the Trojan head coach, USC lost its road opener to North Carolina, 99-84. A senior-laden team went on to finish second in the Pac-10 and qualify for the NCAA tournament. Could history repeat itself this season?

LAST YEAR'S GAME AGAINST BYU --

Freshman guard Rodrick Stewart scored a season-high 14 points to lead USC, but the Trojans couldn't handle BYU's potent inside-outside combination and fell to the Cougars, 85-61, in Provo, Utah. Rafael Araujo, BYU's 7-foot, 280-pound center dominated the paint with 28 points and 11 rebounds and even stepped out to hit two three-pointers. Those treys were part of a 12-of-24 Cougar effort from behind the arc that helped keep USC at bay. The Trojans led early at 21-15 with 11:22 left in the first half. But BYU then rattled off a 19-1 run to lead 34-22 with 4:54 to go and entered the half ahead 45-31. USC could only close to within 11 before the Cougars pulled way. Forward Mark Bigelow complemented Araujo's game with a 17-point effort. USC big men Rory O'Neil and Jeff McMillan scored 10 points each and combined to make 9-of-11 shots.

USC COACH Henry BibbyHenry Bibby, a coach with 22 years of college and professional experience and the only person to ever play for an NCAA, NBA and CBA championship team, is in his ninth full season in 2004-2005 as the head coach of the USC men's basketball program. He is just two years removed from guiding the Trojans to only their second back-to-back 20-win seasons in 2001 and 2002 and only their third back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances.• USC finished 13-15 in 2004, 8-10 in the Pac-10 (sixth place). Highlighting the year was USC's second consecutive sweep of crosstown rival UCLA, a first in more than 60 years, as well as its fifth home win over Arizona in the last eight years. The Trojans showed signs of brilliance during the season, playing top-ranked Stanford down to the wire twice before falling and coming within a possession of beating Arizona for a second time in a memorable Pac-10 Tournament first-round game that ended the Trojans' string of Pac-10 Tournament final appearances at two.• Bibby and the Trojans underwent a rebuilding season in 2003 as USC finished 13-17 overall, 6-12 in the Pac-10 (tied for sixth). Two big bright spots, however, created major optimism for 2004. First of all, USC, despite fielding a team made up predominantly of underclassmen, held second-half leads in almost every game (though it had trouble closing them out). Secondly, the Trojans made their second consecutive run to the Pac-10 Tournament championship game, showing a maturation Bibby hopes carries over to 2004.• In 2002, he led USC to a 22-10 record that included a 12-6 finish in the Pac-10 (tied for second), a finals appearance in the Pac-10 Tournament and a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The 20 wins gave USC back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since 1939-40. USC enjoyed its fifth winning season and fourth postseason berth (three NCAA, one NIT) under his watch. Bibby was named 2002 NABC District 15 Co-Coach of the Year.• In 2001, Bibby led USC to perhaps its greatest season ever, piloting the Trojans to their first NCAA Tournament Elite Eight appearance under the tournament's current format. In their second NCAA Tournament appearance under Bibby, the No. 6-seeded Trojans reached the East Regional Final before losing to Duke. USC's three NCAA Tournament wins (against No. 11 seed Oklahoma State, No. 2 seed Boston College and No. 3 seed Kentucky) were its most ever in one tourney and the Trojans' final record of 24-10 matched the most wins ever in one season at USC. The Trojans finished 11-7 in the Pac-10 (tied for fourth place).• The Trojans' landmark team that Bibby guided featured a trio of NBA draft picks in forward/center Brian Scalabrine, guard Jeff Trepagnier and forward Sam Clancy. Scalabrine and Trepagnier were taken back-to-back in the second round of the 2001 draft; Scalabrine going to New Jersey with the 35th pick while Trepagnier went 36th to Cleveland. Clancy went in the second round of the 2002 draft to Philadelphia with the 45th pick. Clancy was the fourth Trojan taken in the NBA Draft since Bibby has been at USC (the first was Rodrick Rhodes in 1997). Elias Ayuso became the fifth Trojan under Bibby to sign with an NBA team when he inked a deal with the San Antonio Spurs in the summer of 2003.• In his eight years as head coach, Bibby has been instrumental in player development and has guided eight players to a combined 13 All-Pac-10 honors and five players to All-Pac-10 Freshman honors. Under Bibby, Sam Clancy became a Pac-10 Player of the Year, three Trojans (Rhodes, Scalabrine and Jeff McMillan) have earned the Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year award and another (Ayuso) earned Pac-10 All-Newcomer first team notice. Seven of USC's top 20 scorers of all time, and nine of its 28 1,000-point scorers have played under Bibby.

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