USC Men's Hoops Travels To Bay Area To Take On Stanford, Cal

Feb. 15, 2005

Los Angeles -

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The USC men's basketball team--now 10-14 overall and 3-10 in Pac-10 play--looks to build some momentum following a home win against Arizona State as it travels to the Bay Area to face Stanford (13-9, 7-5) on Thursday (Feb. 17) at 7 p.m. at Maples Pavilion and then California (12-10, 5-7) at Haas Pavilion on Saturday (Feb. 19) at noon. USC is trying to crawl out of the cellar of the Pac-10 in time to make the conference tournament in early March. Following Trojan head coach Henry Bibby's dismissal on Dec. 6, the Trojans are 8-12 under the direction of interim head coach Jim Saia. Troy is led by three talented underclassmen in the back court: sophomore shooting guard Lodrick Stewart (13.6 ppg), freshman point guard Gabe Pruitt (12.0 ppg) and freshman swingman Nick Young (11.4 ppg). Six seniors are also featured.

SCOUTING STANFORD -- After starting out the season 6-6, Stanford has won seven of its last nine. The Cardinal are one of the best defensive teams in the league, allowing just 69.3 ppg. Stanford took a hit recently when leading scorer Dan Grunfeld (17.9 ppg) tore an anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee against California and was lost for the season. The Cardinal's next leading scorer is heady junior point guard Chris Hernandez (14.3 ppg, 4.1 apg). Junior forward Matt Haryasz is second in the conference in rebounding (8.7 rpg). Stanford is coming off a 71-56 win over California.

NEW COACH ON THE HORIZON -- It's been a coaching whirlwind for USC this season. First ninth-year coach Henry Bibby was fired on Dec. 6, and replaced by interim coach Jim Saia. Then former Utah coach Rick Majerus took the job on Dec. 15, only to back out five days later, citing health reasons. Friday, Jan. 14, saw the hiring of Tim Floyd, who previously coached in college at Iowa State (where he had great success, posting three-straight 20-win seasons). Floyd will spend this season as a Trojan assistant so that he can recruit, but he will not be involved in coaching the 2004-2005 USC team. Saia will finish out this season for Troy.

NEXT UP -- The Trojans return to Los Angeles next week to play UCLA at Pauley Pavilion on Thursday (Feb. 24) at 7:30 p.m.

SERIES - This is the 226th meeting between USC and Stanford. USC leads, 113-112. The Cardinal have won five of the last six between the two schools, including a 78-70 win in Los Angeles earlier this season. The Trojans have not won at Maples Pavilion since 2002.

LAST MEETING: USC's modest win streak snapped at two games as Stanford beat the Trojans, 78-70, in the Sports Arena on Saturday, Jan. 22. Troy led by as much as eight in the first half and by six with 10 minutes to go, but turnovers killed USC down the stretch as Stanford beat the Trojans for the third-consecutive time. Freshman Gabe Pruitt paced USC with a career-high 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting, including a personal-best five three pointers.

THE COACHES

USC: The Trojans are coached by Jim Saia, who is 8-12 so far serving as interim head coach following the dismissal of Henry Bibby on Dec. 6. He is 1-0 against ASU as a head coach.

STANFORD: Trent Johnson is 13-9 in his first season as coach of the Cardinal. He came to Stanford from Nevada-Reno, where he was 79-74 in five years, including an NCAA Sweet 16 run in 2003-2004.

LAST GAME -- For the second time this season, USC snapped a five-game losing streak by beating Arizona State, this time defeating the Sun Devils at the Sports Arena, 82-71. The Trojans shot .540 from the field, including a season-high .556 from 3-point land (10-of-18). Troy held All-American Ike Diogu--who was averaging 22.5 points and 10.0 rebounds coming in--to just 12 points and 6 rebounds. Nick Young led the way for the Trojans, scoring a team-high 18 points, while Gabe Pruitt added 15 and Jeff McMillan scored 8 to go with his game-high 10 boards. Steve Moore scored a game-high 19 points for the Sun Devils.

SMILIN' GABE PRUITT -- Freshman point guard Gabe Pruitt--known as 'Smilin' Gabe' to Sports Arena PA announcer Petros Papadakis because of his pleasant on-court demeanor--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 indicated 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--with a style reminiscent of NBA star Jalen Rose--wasn't just a one-game wonder. He currently is second in the Pac-10 in steals (2.00 per game) and is ninth in assists (3.42 avg.). Known for his clutch shooting, he is second on the Trojans in scoring (12.0 avg.), 3-point FG% (.423) and minutes (30.4), while leading in assists and steals. He has shot .500 or better from the field in 13 of USC's 24 games. As a result, his current .481 shooting from the field is second to Jacque Hill for the best ever by a Trojan freshman guard. In conference games, he is shooting .459 from 3-point range, fifth-best in the league. In the last nine games, Pruitt is averaging 14.7 points on 43-of-85 shooting (.505) from the field overall and 25-of-44 from 3-point range (.568). He has led the Trojans in scoring in three of the last five games.

NOODLES -- 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, Young-- nicknamed 'Noodles'-- is also making a lot of noise lately. An explosive 6-6 swingman who can jump out of the gym, Young is averaging 13.9 points and 4.2 rebounds in the last 16 games (and 15.0 ppg in the last nine). He leads the team in scoring in conference games at 14.2 ppg--a higher average in conference than any other freshman in the Pac-10. He has four games of 20 points or more this season. He is coming off a pair of 18-point efforts against the Arizona schools (he averaged 19 ppg in the four games against ASU and Arizona this year).

LOD AND CLEAR -- Sophomore guard Lodrick Stewart is one of the top outside shooters in the Pac-10. He leads the Trojans in scoring this season (13.6 ppg). He has scored in double figures in 17 games this season and has scored 20 points or more six times, including a career-and-USC-season-high 27 against San Diego. In his career, he has eight games of 20 points or more. He is fifth in the Pac-10 in 3-point FG% (.433) and is second in 3-pointers made (2.71 pg).

YOUTH IS NOT WASTED ON YOUNG, PRUITT AND STEWART -- Sophomore Lod Stewart and freshmen Gabe Pruitt and Nick Young are the top three scorers on the Trojan basketball team. Between the three of them, they account for 50.1% of USC's points scored this season (889 out of 1,774). They average a combined 37.0 points per game. In conference play, they have scored 518 of USC's 926 points--56% of USC's total (39.8 points per game). Stewart (8 times), Pruitt (6 times) and Young (5 times) have led the Trojans in scoring in 19 of USC's 24 games.

SENIORITIS -- The Trojans have 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 11,914 minutes, scored 4,175 points, snagged 2,360 rebounds and dished out 747 assists in their careers.

BALANCING ACTS -- USC is 5-0 this year in games where at least five players score in double figures.

3-POINT KINGS -- The Trojans lead the Pac-10 in three-point field goals made per game (7.46). USC is 8-1 in games where it hits at least nine three pointers. In the past two games, the Trojans are 20 of 43 (.465) from beyond the arc.

ROAD WOES -- The Trojans have only one road win this year--a 98-94 victory over Arizona State on Jan. 15 in Tempe.

EARLY SIGNEES -- With only four scholarship players scheduled to return next season, the Trojans will have several scholarship opportunities available. USC has already signed two players for 2005-2006: 6-8 small forward Mike Freeman of Alexandria, VA, and 6-3 shooting guard Sead Odzic of Skokie, IL.

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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