USC To Face No. 8 Wichita State In Third-Place Game Of Las Vegas Classic

Dec. 23, 2006

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LAS VEGAS -- The USC men's basketball team (9-3) will take on the No. 8 Wichita State (9-1) on Dec. 23 at 5 p.m.at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. as part of the Las Vegas Classic. USC had its four-game winning streak snapped last night, but has won nine of 11.

SCOUTING WICHITA STATE -- Wichita State is 9-1 and ranked No. 8 in the country, but lost its first game of the season last night, 71-68 vs. New Mexico. The Shockers have six players averaging at least 8.5 points per game. USC and Wichita State have not met since the 1959 season when the Shockers won 82-70. USC and Wichita State each have one win in the series, as the Trojans won 40-37 during the 1936 season.

TROJANS LOSE TO KANSAS STATE -- USC committed a season-high 28 turnovers and 29 fouls in a 68-55 loss to Kansas State on Dec. 22 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. The Trojans led by five at the half and seven early in the second half before the Wildcats went on a 20-3 run to take the lead for good. USC was outscored 45-27 in the second half and held to a season low in points for a game.

WASHINGTON ON DECK -- Washington is 10-1 record and ranked No. 17. The Huskies only loss this season came on the road at the hands of Gonzaga. The Huskies finished second in the Pac-10 in 2005-06 with a 13-5 record and were picked to finish third this season in a preseason poll of media members who cover the Pac-10. Washington was one of two teams last year that were able to sweep the season series with USC, winning 86-77 on Jan. 12 in Los Angeles and then defeating the Trojans 87-73 on Feb. 9 in Seattle, Wash. Washington has beaten USC the last five times the teams have met and the last four in Los Angeles.

GETTING COMFORTABLE IN THE NEW HOME -- USC has won their last eight home games, following the season-opening overtime loss to South Carolina on Nov. 16. The last time USC won more consecutive home games in a season was during the 2000-01 campaign when they won their first 10.

USC TOPS IN DEFENSE -- USC held Kansas State to a 36.7 percent shooting on Dec. 22, the 11th opponent in 12 game held under 40 percent shooting (CSU shot 40.4 percent). USC has held seven opponents (SMC, MVSU, LMU, Kansas, GW, B-CC and LU) to their season-low shooting percentage through games of Dec. 22. USC is holding the opposition to a .331 percentage for the season, tops in the country (through games of Dec. 22):

Team FGM FGA FG Percentage USC 235 710 .331 Connecticut 208 612 .340 Texas A&M 213 622 .342 * Courtesy of Stats, Inc.

USC has held the opposition under 40 percent shooting in 21 of the 42 games Tim Floyd has been the head coach (50.0 percent), whereas in the previous two seasons, they accomplished the feat eight times in 57 games (14 percent).

PRUITT BACK IN ACTION -- All-Pac-10 guard Gabe Pruitt played in his first game last night following a semester of academic ineligibility. Pruitt was second on USC and fifth in the conference in scoring last season with a 16.9 points per game average. He has 131 career three-pointers in his first two seasons, the most ever in the first two seasons by a USC player. Pruitt was 0-for-3 from the field and 2-for-3 from the free throw line in his first game back.

TROJAN TAKING STOCK IN THE BLOCK -- USC has 47 blocks in the first 12 games, including a season-high seven blocks in the game on Nov. 18 vs. Saint Mary's. Freshman Taj Gibson leads the Trojans with 20 blocks and senior Abdoulaye N'diaye and sophomore RouSean Cromwell each have seven.

GIBSON MAKING SUDDEN IMPACT -- Trojan freshman forward Taj Gibson had 18 rebounds on Nov. 24 vs. Long Beach State, the most by a Trojan since Jeff McMillan also had 18 rebounds on Feb. 25, 2004 vs. UCLA and the most by a Pac-10 player this season. The last Trojan with more rebounds in a game was David Bluthenthal who tied the school record with 28 on Jan. 20, 2000 vs. Arizona State. Bluthenthal tied Cliff Robinson's school and freshman record of 28 rebounds set on Jan. 20, 1978 vs. Portland State. Gibson has six double-doubles (points-rebounds) in his first 12 games, the most among conference players. Gibson was held to five points vs. LMU, snapping his streak of scoring in double figures at five games, the first USC freshman to score in double digits in his first five collegiate games since Tom Lewis during the 1985-86 season (first nine games). He has reached double figures in scoring in 10 of 12 games.

THAT'S A LOD OF POINTS -- Senior Lodrick Stewart reached the 1,000 points scored mark on Nov. 24 against Long Beach when he made a layup two minutes into the second half. He finished that night with 16 points. He currently has 1,142 career points, ranking him 20th all-time on USC's scoring list and first among active career scorers in the Pac-10. On Dec. 2 vs. LMU, Stewart made a career-high six three-pointers (6-for-9) and then added five (5-for-8) at Kansas on Dec. 4. He is 26-for-62 from beyond the arc on the season (.419).

WINNING THE BOARD GAME -- USC was outrebounded by Kansas State 34-27, but has outrebounded seven of its 12 opponents. Last season USC outrebounded the opposition in just eight of 30 games. The Trojans had 47 rebounds in the opener (most since getting 50 in the 2005-06 opener) and 40 in their second game, the first time USC had recorded back-to-back games of 40 or more rebounds since Dec. 3 and Dec. 6, 2003. The 58 rebounds USC collected on Nov. 24 vs. LBSU were its most in a game since also grabbing 58 boards on Feb. 27, 1997 vs. Oregon. USC has five game of 40 or more rebounds this year and had just six all of last season.

STARTING TO FIND THE RANGE FROM BEYOND THE ARC -- USC is 40-for-98 (40.8 percent) from three-point range in the last nine games, despite going 1-for-11 last night. USC averaged 19 three-pointers per game last season and took a conference-high 20.4 per Pac-10 game in 2005-06. USC is averaging just 11.0 three-point shots per game this season, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Last season when USC took 15 or less shots from behind the arc, they were 8-1 and are 9-2 this season.

DEFENDING THE THREE -- USC has held its opponents to 26.3 percent shooting from three-point range (69-for-262).

FORTIFIED BY FRESHMEN -- The Trojan freshman are playing a big role for USC in the first 10 contests. First-year players Taj Gibson and Daniel Hackett have started all 12 games and Dwight Lewis has started one. Gibson leads the team in rebounding (9.8) and is third in scoring (12.3). The Trojans have seven freshmen on this squad and they have combined to score 42.7 percent of USC's points and have played 49.8 percent of the team's minutes.

N0THING FOUL ABOUT THIS SHOOTING -- The Trojans hit 33 of 38 foul shots (86.8 percent) on Dec. 9 vs. George Washington. It was the team's best percentage in a game since making 87.0 percent vs. Washington on March 6, 2003 and the most made free throws in a game since also making 33 on Jan. 20, 2000 vs. Arizona State. USC has made 73.2 percent of its free throws this season, second best in the conference. USC has shot better than 70 percent from the free throw line just one season (2001) in the last 20 years.

HOW RARE WAS THAT COMEBACK? -- USC's comeback from a 20-point deficit in the second half (38-18) to win 74-65 vs. George Washington at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. on Dec. 9 was the biggest since also staging a 20-point second-half comeback vs. BYU (down 23-43) on Dec. 23, 2000 to win 70-67. It was just the third time in the last 15 seasons that USC came back from a 20-point deficit to win, the other being Dec. 7, 1996 at UNC Charlotte.

YOUNG SCORES 1,000TH POINT -- Junior swingman Nick Young's tip-in one minute into the game on Dec. 19 vs. Longwood was his 1,000th career point, the 31st Trojan to reach the 1,000 career points scored plateau. Young joined teammate Lodrick Stewart who eclipsed the 1,000 career points total on Nov. 24 vs. Long Beach State. Young scored 17 in the game to give him 1,015 career points scored to rank 30th on USC's all-time list. With nine vs. Kansas State, he moved up to 29th place.

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