No. 19 USC Travels Crosstown To Face No. 2 UCLA With Conference Lead On The Line
Feb. 6, 2007
LOS ANGELES -- The USC men's basketball team (18-6, 8-3) will travel to No. 2 UCLA (20-2, 9-2) on Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m. at Pauley Pavilion in Westwood, Calif. USC is 13-4 in its last 17 games. The Trojans' 8-3 conference record is their best start since also beginning the 2002 Pac-10 conference slate at 8-3. The Trojans are in a second-place tie in the Pac-10 with Washington State, one game behind the Bruins, who have not lost at home this season. USC's No. 19 ranking is its highest since being ranked No. 16 before the NCAA Tournament in 2002.
SCOUTING UCLA -- UCLA is coming off an 82-35 drubbing of Oregon State on Feb. 3. The Bruins defeated USC 65-64 on Jan. 13 at the Galen Center when Arron Afflalo hit a jumper with four seconds left, following a four-point play by Nick Young which had given USC the lead. USC is 6-5 in the last 11 games against UCLA, but is only 2-11 in the last 13 games at Pauley Pavilion. Last season at UCLA, USC fell 66-45 and was held to its lowest total in the series since the 1969 season. Afflalo leads the Bruins in scoring with 17.0 points per game.
TROJANS DEFEAT DUCKS -- USC shot 60 percent from the field and held off then No. 9 Oregon's second-half rally for a 71-68 win on Feb. 3 at the Galen Center. USC led 39-28 at the half, but was outscored by Oregon 26-15 in first nine minutes of the second half to force a 54-54 tie USC took the lead for good at 63-60 on a three-pointer by Nick Young with 5:11 left. Taj Gibson led four Trojans in double figures with 18 points and four blocks.
No. 24 ARIZONA ON DECK -- The Trojans next game will be at No. 24 Arizona in Tucson, Ariz. on Feb. 15 at 8:30 p.m. USC defeated the Wildcats 80-73 on Jan. 18 at the Galen Center behind a season-high 30 points from Nick Young. Marcus Williams leads five Arizona players in double figures with an average of 16.8 points per game. USC has lost 21 consecutive games at McKale Center since a 64-63 win on Jan. 17, 1985.
TAKING A DEFENSIVE STAND -- California became the first team to shoot better than 50 percent from the field against the Trojans this season when it made 51.9 percent of its shots on Jan. 27. Still, USC has held 20 of 24 opponents to 41.4 percent or less from the floor and 17 of 24 under 40 percent shooting. USC has held the opposition under 40 percent shooting in 27 of the 54 games Tim Floyd has been the head coach (50.0 percent), whereas in the previous two seasons, they accomplished the feat 8 times in 57 games (14 percent). USC has held the opposition to a 36.7 shooting percentage, third best in the country.
TOUGH ROAD AHEAD -- Tonight's game is the first of five road contests in USC's final seven games. Making things even tougher on the Trojans is that four of the remaining opponents are teams that are currently ranked. USC is 3-2 on the road this season, 3-1 in conference.
RISING UP THROUGH THE RANKS -- Win the win over then No. 9 Oregon on Feb. 3, USC improved to 5-2 vs. ranked opponents this season. The five wins USC has against Top 25 teams are the most in a season since beating six ranked opponents during the 2002 season. Five of USC's seven games from Dec. 23-Jan. 18 were against ranked opponents and the Trojans went 4-1 in those games.
IN TIM WE TRUST -- The arrival of head coach Tim Floyd brought great excitement to the USC campus and with good reason. Floyd has an impressive track record in the collegiate ranks along with his NBA experience. He brings 18 years of head coaching experience at the collegiate and NBA levels and owns a 278-149 record in his 14 seasons as a college head coach at Idaho (1987-88), New Orleans (1989-94), Iowa State (1995-98) and USC (2005-06). His record at USC is 35-19. Eight of his first 13 seasons, Floyd has taken his team into the postseason (5 NCAA, 3 NIT). Floyd has helped the development of his student-athletes at each stop, as 10 players in his 13 years have made it to the NBA, including three players that did not even play high school ball.
FLOYD OFF TO GREAT START -- USC head coach Tim Floyd has a 35-19 record in his first 54 games at the helm for the Trojans. To date, he has guided USC to more victories in his first two seasons as a head coach than all but two USC coaches in their first two seasons:
1st yr. 2nd yr. Total Pct. Leo Calland (1928-29) 22-4 16-6 38-10 .792 Forrest Twogood (1951-52) 21-6 16-14 37-20 .649 Tim Floyd (2006-07) 17-13 18-6 35-19 .648
FACING UCLA WHEN RANKED -- The last time USC and UCLA squared off when both teams were ranked was on Feb. 6, 2002 at Pauley Pavilion when No. 15 UCLA nipped No. 24 USC 67-65 on a three-pointer at the buzzer by Billy Knight.
MAKING THEIR SHOTS COUNT -- USC is shooting .482 from the field this season (606-for-1258). The last time USC finished a season with a higher shooting percentage was in 1985 when it had a .487 shooting percentage and the 2007 team's percentage currently is sixth best in school history.
HOLDING THEM DOWN WITH 'D' -- USC has held 11 opponents to under 60 points this season. It is the most games in a season that the Trojans have held the opposition to 59 points or less since accomplishing the feat 13 times in 1987.
HOW GOOD HAS GIBSON BEEN? -- On Jan. 4 at Oregon freshman Taj Gibson picked up his eighth double-double of the season (2nd most in the Pac-10) with 18 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocks. Already, he has cracked the all-time USC freshman season top 10s in rebounds (3rd with 204), free throws attempted (3rd with 109), free throws made (3rd with 66), points (9th with 308) and blocks (1st with 49). He also is on a pace to set the school freshman field goal percentage record (.614) and his 8.5 rebounds per game average is second best all-time as a freshman at USC to Cliff Robinson's 9.6 in 1978.
HACKETT MONEY FROM THE LINE -- Freshman Daniel Hackett has hit 66 of 78 free throws this season for a 84.6 percentage, fourth best in the Pac-10.
THE SECOND CENTURY OF HOOPS AT USC -- The Trojans are beginning their second century of intercollegiate basketball and have a 1,410-1,010 record. The Trojans have had a .500 or better record in 71 of the first 100 seasons.
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME -- USC's loss to Washington State on Dec. 30 snapped a nine-game home winning streak, 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 it won the first 10. USC is 13-3 at the Galen Center this season with the losses being an overtime loss (South Carolina) and two games in which the Trojans led with five seconds left in the game (Washington State and UCLA).
PAC-10 PRESEASON RANKINGS -- The Trojans were picked to finish in sixth place in the Pac-10 conference this season, according to a poll of media members who cover Pac-10 men's basketball. UCLA was picked to win the conference with 335 votes, followed by Arizona (280), Washington (236), Oregon (193), California (177), USC (160), Stanford (127), Oregon State (75), Arizona State (69) and Washington State (54). Last season, USC was a preseason No. 8 pick and they finished sixth.
INJURY UPDATES -- Freshman forward Kasey Cunningham is recovering from left knee surgery (ACL). He is expected to redshirt this season. Junior guard Gabe Pruitt twisted his right ankle in practice on Feb. 6 and is hopeful that he can play on Feb. 7 at UCLA.
PRUITT BACK ON TRACK -- All-Pac-10 guard Gabe Pruitt played in his first game on Dec. 22 following a semester of academic ineligibility, but was a combined 0-6 from the field with two points in his first two games. He has started the 11 games since then and shined. He scored 18 points, grabbed three rebounds, dished out a game-high six assists and had a steal on Dec. 28 vs. Washington. In his 11 starts, he has averaged 11.5 points (127 total), 3.7 assists (41 total), 1.3 steals (14 total) and 2.3 rebounds (25 total).
BLOCK PARTY LEADS TO TOP 10 -- USC had eight blocks in the 71-68 win vs. Oregon on Feb. 3, including three staight in a 28 second stretch after the Trojans had taken a 63-60 lead. USC had a season-high nine blocks in the game on Jan. 4 at Oregon. USC's total of 102 blocks this season ranks 10th in school history. The 102 total blocks is third among Pac-10 teams. Taj Gibson leads the Trojans and is second among Pac-10 players with 49 blocks, senior Abdoulaye N'diaye has 14 and sophomore RouSean Cromwell has 12. Gibson had seven blocks on Jan. 4 at Oregon, tying him for the fourth best single-game total by a Trojan.
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 eight double-doubles (points-rebounds) in his first 24 games. He scored in double figures in his first 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 19 of 24 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 2 minutes into the second half. He finished that night with 16 points. He currently has 1,282 career points, ranking him 14th all-time on USC's scoring list and second among active career scorers in the Pac-10. He poured in a career-high 28 on Jan. 6 at OSU.
STEWART SETS SCHOOL RECORD -- Lodrick Stewart made all six three-point shots he attempted on Jan. 6 at Oregon State, the most three-pointers made in a single game by a Trojan with out a miss. The previous best by a USC player had been five by Brad Winslow (1987) and Errick Craven (2002). The six shots made from beyond the arc tied his career best set on Dec. 2 this season vs. LMU. He is 54-for-123 from beyond the arc on the season (.439) and has a career three-point shooting percentage of .396 (209-for-528).
THE BATTLE OF THE BOARDS -- USC was outrebounded 41-20 by Oregon on Feb. 3, but has outrebounded 11 of its 24 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.
SOMETIMES TWO CAN BE BETTER THAN THREE -- 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 12.8 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 15-3 this season. USC is 3-3 this season when taking more than 15 three-point shots in a game. In conference games, USC is hitting a sizzling 43.1 percent of its threes.
DEFENDING THE THREE -- USC has held its opponents to 29.8 percent shooting from three-point range this season (156-for-523), best among Pac-10 teams.
FORTIFIED BY FRESHMEN -- The Trojan freshman are playing a big role for USC. First-year players Taj Gibson (24), Daniel Hackett (13), Dwight Lewis (8) and Kevin Galloway (1) have all started this season. Gibson leads the team in rebounding (8.5) and is third in scoring (12.8). The Trojans have six freshmen on the squad (one redshirting) and they have combined to score 38.5 percent of USC's points and have played 43.1 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 71.1 percent of its free throws this season. 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 SHOOTING UP THE CHARTS -- 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. He now has scored 1,246 career points to rank 17th on USC's all-time list, one point behind Purvis Miller (1978-81). He has reached double figures in points in his last 12 games and in 21 of 24 games this season.
TURNING AROUND THE TURNOVERS -- USC has had more assists than turnovers in six of the last 12 games after accomplishing that feat once in the first 12 games. In the last 12 games, USC has 147 assists and 135 turnovers, but the total for the season is 304 assists and 383 turnovers. USC has averaged 11.3 turnovers per game in the last 12, after averaging 19.8 in the first 12 games.
SMOKING IN THE SECOND HALF -- USC has scored an average of 39.1 points after halftime and 32.0 points in the first half. The Trojans are shooting 51.0 percent from the floor in the second half (including overtime). USC has shot 50 percent or better after halftime in 13 of 24 games, including hitting 60 percent or better seven times. Perhaps the hottest Trojan in the second half of games in Nick Young who has scored 218 of his 407 points this season after halftime and had averaged 18.2 points in the second halves of games. Young has scored in double figures in the second half of games 11 times this season.
CHECK THE RIMS -- The Trojan trio of Nick Young, Lodrick Stewart and Gabe Pruitt has each averaged double-figures in scoring for their careers, but not when it comes to playing at Pauley Pavilion. In three career games at UCLA, Stewart has averaged 3.7 points (11 total), while in two games Young has averaged 5.0 (10 total) and Pruitt 7.0 (14 total).
SHARP-SHOOTING STEWART -- Senior guard Lodrick Stewart is fourth among conference players with a .439 shooting percentage from three-point range. He has been especially hot of late, hitting at a .510 clip (25-for-49) over USC's last nine games.
HOW DOES GIBSON STACK UP AMONG THE OTHER PAC-10 FRESHMAN YOU ASK...? -- The Pac-10 has been getting recognition for all the quality freshmen coming into the league this season and their efforts can be seen up and down the conference leaders charts. Trojan Taj Gibson is fifth among Pac-10 freshman in points per game with 12.8, leads all freshmen with 8.5 rebounds per game (4th among all Pac-10 players), leads all freshmen in field goal percentage at .614 (tops among conference players) and is second in blocks by freshmen (2nd overall).
Points Rebounds FG Pct. BlocksAnderson (CAL) 16.9 Gibson (USC) 8.5 Gibson (USC) .614 R. Lopez (STAN) 54Budinger (UA) 15.7 Anderson (CAL) 8.4 Hawes (UW) .549 Gibson (USC) 49Hawes (UW) 14.6 R. Lopez (STAN) 6.5 Hawes (UW) 35Polk (ASU) 12.9 Budinger (UA) 6.0 B. Lopez (STAN) 32Gibson (USC) 12.8 Hawes (UW) 5.8 Hill (ARIZ) 19
TURNING THE DIAL -- The USC game on Sunday, Feb. 18 at Arizona State at 6 p.m. will be broadcast on Radio Disney 1110 AM and not the usual ESPN Radio AM 710 due to network obligations to carry the NBA All-Star game. The game will be televised on Prime TIcket.
GIBSON AND FLOYD GET ACCOLADES -- Taj Gibson was selected as the Player of the Week (Jan. 1-7) by ESPN.com and TheSportingNews.com. He scored 18 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked seven shots in an 84-82 win at previously unbeaten Oregon, then scored 20 points in the 91-46 win at Oregon State. Head coach Tim Floyd was named Coach of the Week on Dick Vitale's website.
YOUNG NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK -- Junior swingman Nick Young was named U.S. Bank Pac-10 Player of the Week for Jan. 15-21, as he led USC to a sweep of the Arizona schools. Young averaged 24 points and 5.5 rebounds in the two games, including scoring 30 points in the 80-73 win over then No. 11 Arizona on Jan. 18.
GIBSON SET THE SCHOOL FRESHMAN BLOCKS RECORD - Lost among the many blocks at Maples Pavilion on Jan. 25 was that USC freshman Taj Gibson swatted three more shots to bring his season total at the time to 44 blocks, the most ever by a USC freshman. The previous school record for blocks by a freshman was 43 by Ken Johnson in 1982.
YOUNG AND AFFLALO - Since they arrived at their respective schools in the Fall of 2004, Trojan Nick Young and Bruin Arron Afflalo have been posting some pretty impressive and comparable numbers and taking their team's key shots. Here is a closer look at their bodies of work:
2005 Games PPG Reb./G FG% 3-Pt.% FT% Asst/G Blk/G Stl/GAfflalo 29 10.8 3.3 .442 .386 .708 2.2 0.2 0.6YOUNG 29 11.1 4.1 .441 .315 .644 1.3 0.3 0.8
2006 Games PPG Reb./G FG% 3-Pt.% FT% Asst/G Blk/G Stl/GAfflalo 39 15.8 4.2 .462 .366 .806 1.8 0.1 0.6YOUNG 30 17.3 6.6 .467 .333 .801 1.6 0.2 1.0
2007 Games PPG Reb./G FG% 3-Pt.% FT% Asst/G Blk/G Stl/GAfflalo 22 17.0 2.1 .489 .404 .770 2.4 0.3 0.8YOUNG 24 17.0 4.6 .524 .464 .760 1.5 0.3 0.8
TROJANS NO STRANGER TO TIGHT CONTESTS -- USC is 4-2 in games decided by five points or less, including the loss in the first game vs. UCLA (65-64). The Trojans are also 5-2 in games decided by 6-10 points and have won nine games decided by 10 points or less (9-4), tied for the most among Pac-10 teams. Oregon is 9-2 in the close games with both losses coming at the hands of USC (2 points and 3 points).