Men's Hoops Wraps Up Bay Area Trip With Visit To Cal

Feb. 18, 2005

Berkeley, CA -

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The USC men's basketball team--now 10-15 overall and 3-11 in Pac-10 play--looks for its second road win of the season as it travels to Berkeley to take on the California Golden Bears (12-11, 5-8) 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. The game will be televised live on Fox Sports Net. Following Trojan head coach Henry Bibby's dismissal on Dec. 6, the Trojans are 8-13 under the direction of interim head coach Jim Saia. Troy is led two of the top freshmen in the Pac-10: Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Candidate Gabe Pruitt (12.5 ppg) and explosive 6-6 swingman Nick Young (11.3 ppg), who leads all Pac-10 frosh in conference scoring. But the Trojans' leading scorer is lights-out shooter Lodrick Stewart, a sophomore who averages13.2 ppg. Six seniors--the most on any team in the Pac-10--are also featured.

SCOUTING CALIFORNIA -- The Bears have won four of their last seven games, but are coming off a 77-62 loss to UCLA on Thursday. Cal is led by junior guard Richard Midgley, who leads the team in scoring (13.9 ppg), and junior forward Rod Benson (14.8 ppg in Pac-10 play). Coming into this week, the Bears were second in the conference in scoring defense (67.8 ppg) and FG% defense (.417). However, Cal is ninth in the league in scoring (68.4 ppg).

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.

LAST GAME -- Gabe Pruitt tied his career high with 23 points, but Stanford got 23 from Matt Haryasz and 22 from Fred Washington (filling in for an injured Dan Grunfeld) to beat the Trojans at Maples Pavilion 71-62. Pruitt scored 18 first-points while going 6-of-7 from 3-point range as USC led 35-32 at the intermission. But Stanford went on a 21-9 run to open the second half and went out to a 63-49 lead with 6:36 to play. Troy stormed back with a 13-2 run to close the gap to three points (65-62) with 2:40 left, but Stanford closed out with a 7-0 run, with Haryasz going 4-for-4 from the foul line. The Cardinal were called for just 8 personal fouls--a Pac-10 low this season and the fewest by a Trojan opponent in at least two years. The Trojans made at least 10 three pointers for the third game in a row, going 12 of 27 from beyond the arc. But USC shot a season-low six free throws, making four, and put in their second-worst shooting performance of the season (.383). USC scored more 3-pointers than 2-pointers. Junior guard Dwayne Shackleford had his second-straight game in double figures, scoring 11 points and adding a career-high 5 assists.

SERIES -- This is the 234th meeting between USC and California. The Golden Bears lead, 120-113. USC has won the last two against Cal and three of the last four. However, Troy hasn't defeated Cal in Haas Pavilion since 2001.

LAST MEETING: Lodrick Stewart scored a game-high 23 points and Errick Craven added 12 as USC defeated Cal, 83-66, on Jan. 20 at the Sports Arena to even its record at 9-9 on the season.

THE COACHES

USC: The Trojans are coached by Jim Saia, who is 8-13 so far serving as interim head coach following the dismissal of Henry Bibby on Dec. 6. He is 1-0 against Cal as a head coach.

California: Ben Braun is 498-340 in his 28th season as a head coach. He is 165-105 in his ninth year at Cal. He is 12-6 against the Trojans while coaching the Golden Bears.

Gabriel Pruitt2005 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Candidate6-4, 180, Los Angeles, CA

Freshman point guard Gabe Pruitt is quickly establishing himself as one of the best young point guards in the country. He is known as 'Smilin' Gabe' to Sports Arena PA announcer Petros Papadakis because of his pleasant demeanor on the court.

Smilin' Gabe's Overall Averages Through 25 GamesPoints Rebounds Assist Steals FG% FT% 3ptFG% Minutes12.5 2.7 3.4 2.0 .484 .702 .443 30.7

In Conference Through 14 Games--Points Rebounds Assists Steals FG% FT% 3ptFG% Minutes13.4 2.7 2.6 1.9 .485 .714 .486 30.6

Reasons for Gabe to Smile:

• He leads all Pac-10 freshmen in 3-point FG% (.443) and 3-point FGs made (54)

• He is fourth among all Pac-10 players players in 3-point FG% in conference play (.486)

• He is second in the conference in steals at 2.0 per game

• His 13.4 ppg in conference is third-best among Pac-10 freshman, narrowly trailing teammate Nick Young (13.9) and UCLA's Jordan Farmar (13.8).

• His .484 FG% is tied with Jacque Hill (1980) for the best-ever by a Trojan freshman guard

• He has hit at least one 3-pointer in 23 of 25 games this year

• In his last three games, he is averaging 19.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.3 steals, with a .487 FG% and a .520 3-pt FG%

• He is averaging 16.8 points in his last seven games while shooting .531 from 3-point range

• He is averaging 15.5 points in his last 10 games, while shooting .505 from the field and .561 from 3-point range

• He has led USC in scoring in 3 of the last 5 games and in 4 of the last 7

• His 12.5 ppg is the fourth-highest scoring average ever by a USC freshman and best since Harold Miner averaged 20.6 ppg on his way to earning Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors in 1990

• His 54 3-point field goals is second only to Miner (60) for most 3-pointers by a USC freshman

• His .443 3-pt FG% is the best ever by a Trojan in a season

• His 84 assists is the fifth-most by a Trojan freshman

• He has shot 50% or better from the field in 15 of USC's 25 games

• His seven 3-pointers against Stanford was the second most in a game in USC history and second most in a game in the Pac-10 this year

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 have been noted, Young--nicknamed 'Noodles'-- is making quite a name for himself lately. An explosive 6-6 swingman who can jump out of the gym, Young leads the team in scoring in conference games at 13.9 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). He is quickly becoming known around the league for his highlight-reel dunks and acrobatic moves around the basket.

LOD AND CLEAR -- Sophomore guard Lodrick Stewart is one of the top outside shooters in the Pac-10, with a stroke that is hard to stop once it gets going. He leads the Trojans in scoring this season (13.2 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. Coming into this week, he was fifth in the Pac-10 in 3-point FG% (.433) and 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 50.3% of USC's points scored this season (924 out of 1,836). They average a combined 37.0 points per game. In conference play, they have scored 553 of USC's 988 points--56% of USC's total (39.5 points per game). Stewart (8 times), Pruitt (7 times) and Young (5 times) have led the Trojans in scoring in 20 of USC's 25 games.

BABY SHAQ IS BACK! -- In game one against UC Irvine, junior guard Dwayne `Baby Shaq' Shackleford made a big splash with 12 points, then didn't reach double figures again until game 24 against ASU, when he scored 10. He added 11 against Stanford to go with a career-high 5 assists. So in the last two games, Shackleford is averaging 10.5 points and 4.0 assists while making 5-of-10 three pointers (.500).

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 11,994 minutes, scored 4,191 points, snagged 2,379 rebounds and dished out 749 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 (7.9). USC is 8-2 in games where it hits at least nine three pointers. In the past three games, the Trojans are 32 of 70 (.457) 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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