USC Men's Basketball Hosts No. 12 Washington On Thursday

Jan. 3, 2005

Los Angeles -

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The USC men's basketball team--now 7-6 overall and 0-2 in Pac-10 play--looks for its first win in conference as it hosts No. 12 Washington (12-1, 2-0) on Thursday (Jan. 6) at 7:30 p.m. and Washington State (6-5, 1-1) on Saturday (Jan. 8) at 5 p.m. The Trojans are 0-2 in the Pac-10 after getting swept by the Oregon schools last weekend. Both games will be televised on Fox Sports Net 2. Since Trojan head coach Henry Bibby was dismissed on Dec. 6, the Trojans are 5-4 under the direction of interim head coach Jim Saia. Troy is led by the underclass backcourt combination of Lodrick Stewart (15.2 ppg) and Gabe Pruitt (10.9 ppg) and the upperclass front court trio of Gregg Guenther (8.3 pts, 6.8 reb), Rory O'Neil (10.8 ppg, .467 from 3-point range) and Jeff McMillan (9.4 pts, 6.0 reb). The Trojans are 4-1 at home this season.

SCOUTING WASHINGTON -- The Huskies at 12-1 are off to their best in 29 years, ranked 12th by AP and 14th by the USA Today Coaches Poll. Third-year coach Lorenzo Romar's squad, which reached the NCAA tournament last season, has six players averaging in double figures, led by junior dynamo Nate Robinson (17.7 ppg) and senior guard Tre Simmons (16.3 ppg). Washington leads the Pac-10 in scoring offense (89.6), scoring margin (+16.8), turnover margin (+4.92) and assists (20.4 per game). They are coming off a home sweep of the Bay Area schools, including a 76-73 win over Stanford on Sunday.

SERIES HISTORY - This is the 121st meeting between USC and Washington. The Trojans lead the series, 62-58, and have won the last two (and five of the last seven). The two teams last met in Los Angeles last season, with Washington prevailing, 93-82. The Huskies have won three of the last four after dropping seven in a row to the Trojans.

LAST MEETING -- Washington beat USC, 93-82, in their last meeting this past February at the Sports Arena. The Trojans led by 11 in the first half, trailed by six at halftime and fell behind by double digits for much of the second half. USC cut the deficit to 70-66 with 8:06 left, but the Huskies went on an 11-3 run, preventing Troy from getting any closer. Desmon Farmer scored 31 for the Trojans, while Brandon Roy led UW with 17 (one of five Huskies in double figures).

NEXT UP -- The Trojans hit the road again next week to take on Arizona (Jan. 13) and Arizona State (Jan. 15).

LAST GAME -- The Trojans dropped to 0-2 in the Pac-10 (and 7-6 overall) as they fell to Oregon State in Corvallis, 74-64. Rory O'Neil led USC with 17 points and eight rebounds. Troy led for much of the game and held a seven point lead early in the second half before the Beavers went on a 14-4 run that gave OSU a 61-53 lead, thanks in large part to Jason Fontenet's 12 second-half points. The Beavers closed out the win at the free throw line, where they shot 19 of 25 for the game to USC's 5 for 11. The loss moved USC to 0-5 on the road and snapped Troy's modest two-game win streak against the Beavers.

THE COACHES - USC: The Trojans are coached by Jim Saia, who is 5-4 so far serving as interim head coach following the dismissal of Henry Bibby on Dec. 6.

WASHINGTON: Lorenzo Romar is 41-30 in his third year coaching the Huskies. He is 3-1 against the Trojans while at Washington.

USC is 6-1 when scoring 70 points or more; the Trojans are 1-5 when scoring under 70.

USC's opponents, including Washington., are a combined 96-55 this season heading into this weekend's games (a .635 winning pctg).

STU! -- In the first three games of the season (two of them Trojan losses), sophomore guard Lodrick Stewart averaged 6.3 points, 1.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.6 steals per game and was shooting just 35% from the field. In the last 10 games (six of them Trojan wins), the left-handed Stewart is averaging 17.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists while shooting .500 from the field. He also has scored 20 points or more five times in that stretch. In the last eight games--five of them USC wins--he is shooting a stellar 53-of-101 from the field (.524) and is 29-of-67 from 3-point range (.432). In his career, he has seven games of 20 points or more. All have come in the last 18 games he has played for USC. He is USC's leading scorer this year (15.2).

Lodrick Stewart IN THE LAST 10 GAMES

OPP	FG/FGA	FG%	3FG	3FG%	PtsBYU	7-16	.438	2-6	.333	22FSU	4-11	.364	1-3	.333	12USD	11-19	.579	5-11	.455	27WMU	8-14	.571	4-9	.444	21ISU	3-9	.333	2-4	.500	11UAB	6-10	.600	2-6	.333	14Hawaii	4-9	.444	2-7	.286	12Southern 7-12	.583	5-9	.556	20Oregon	9-16	.563	5-12	.417	25OSU	5-12	.417	4-9	.444	14TOT--	64-128	.500	32-76	.421	17.9

PRU! -- Freshman point guard Gabe Pruitt is quickly establishing himself as one of the best young point guards in the country. The Los Angeles native didn't waste much time in game one--a check of the records indicates that when 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--who has a style reminiscent of NBA star Jalen Rose--wasn't just a one-game wonder. He currently leads the Pac-10 in steals (2.3 per game) and is tied for sixth in assists (4.1 avg.). Known for his calm demeanor and clutch shooting, he is second on the Trojans in scoring (10.9 avg.). His field goal percentage (.491) is the best FG% ever by a freshman Trojan guard. He has shot .500 or better from the field in nine of USC's 13 games.

THE TANK BEGINS TO ROLL -- Senior forward Jeff 'Tank' McMillan came back in the Rainbow Classic a couple weeks ago after being out of the lineup since the first possession of game three against La Salle, when he broke his left hand. Since his return, the 2004 Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year is averaging 9.8 points and 5.8 rebounds in just 22 minutes per game.

YOUNG GUN -- USC's recruiting class was ranked as high as seventh by one expert. The two jewels of the class--and the prime building blocks of USC teams to come--are Gabe Pruitt and Nick Young. While Pruitt's exploits were noted earlier, it is Young who has come on the most of late. An explosive 6-6 swingman who can jump out of the gym, Young is averaging 11.8 points and 5.2 rebounds while shooting .470 from the field the last five games. He scored a career-high 21 points against Oregon in his Pac-10 debut on 9-of-17 shooting, while also grabbing 7 rebounds.

CURRENT TROJANS LIFETIME AGAINST WASHINGTON --

Player	        Games	        Pts.	Rebs.	Ast.	Pts. HighDerrick Craven	4		5.8	3.3	3.0 	10Nick Curtis	5		7.4	5.4	0.8	17Gregg Guenther	4		4.8	3.5	0.5	10Jeff McMillan	2		5.0	4.0	0.5	10Rory O'Neil	6		6.8	2.7	0.3	16Lodrick Stewart	2		6.5	3.5	1.5	9

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 10,973 minutes, scored 3,884 points, snagged 2,166 rebounds and dished out 681 assists in their careers.

HOME COOKING -- While the Trojans are struggling on the road this year (0-5), they are 4-1 at the Sports Arena.

BALANCING ACTS -- The Trojans had six players score in double figures in the season opening win at home against UCI and did it again against Southern in their last home game. USC is 4-0 this year in games where at least five players score in double figures.

OUTGOING -- Two Trojans--sophomore guard Rodrick Stewart and freshman forward Emanuel Willis--have left the program. Stewart, twin brother of Lodrick, is transferring to Kansas, while Willis is returning home to Mississippi (his ultimate playing destination is unknown at this point).

STEAL THIS NOTE -- USC led the Pac-10 in steals last year with an average of 8.89 steals per game. They are leading it again this year with an average of 9.3 per game. That average puts USC on pace to break the school record of 287 steals set in 2001-2002.

Errick Craven OUT -- The Trojans are leading in steals despite being without senior guard Errick Craven. The 3-time reigning Pac-10 steals champ is out with a sprain to his right ankle. It is undetermined at this time when he will be available.

3-POINT KINGS -- The Trojans also lead the Pac-10 in three-point field goals made per game (7.92).USC is 6-0 in games where it hits at least nine three pointers.

ASSISTS BONANZA -- USC has been passing the ball well lately, thanks to the 1-4 Ralph Miller offense that Jim Saia installed at USC this season. It's an offense that relies on passing and results in a lot of easy baskets and assists when run properly. The last two seasons, USC has averaged just 13.6 assists per game. So far this season, it is averaging 16.2 assists per game. At its current pace, USC can challenge the school record for assists in a season (518 in 2000).

PAST GLORY -- Fifty years ago this calendar year, the Trojans went to their last NCAA Final Four. The 1953-54 USC basketball team was coached by Forrest Twogood and was captained by forward Dick Welsh. The Trojans fell to Bradley, 74-72, in their semifinal game. Bradley went on to lose to La Salle (which beat USC earlier this season, coincidentally) in the NCAA title game.

NEW ARENA COMING -- Thanks to the generosity of Louis and Helene Galen, USC's athletic department has begun construction on The Galen Center--a new $114 million, 10,258-seat campus events center that will be home to USC men's basketball. Complete with locker rooms, offices and practice facilities for both basketball and volleyball, The Galen Center is scheduled to be completed in 2006.

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