No. 23 USC To Play At No. 13 Washington State Saturday In Regular Season Finale
March 2, 2007
LOS ANGELES -- The No. 23 ranked USC men's basketball team (21-9, 11-6) will face No. 13 Washington State (23-6, 12-5) on March 3 at 4:00 p.m. at Friel Court in Pullman, Wash with second place in the conference on the line. USC's 21 victories are its most since winning 22 in 2002 (22-10).
SCOUTING WASHINGTON STATE -- No. 13 Washington State is coming off a 53-45 loss vs. UCLA on March 1, but has won six of its last eight games. They also are 12-2 in home games this season. The Cougars defeated the Trojans 58-55 on Dec. 30 at the Galen Center when Kyle Weaver hit a short runner with four seconds left to give WSU the lead. Weaver is averaging 11.2 points per game and Derrick Low 13.4 to lead the Cougars. USC has lost its last three games at Friel Court, but has won six of the last 11 at Washington State.
TROJANS FALL AT WASHINGTON -- USC lost 85-70 at Washington on March 1 as the Huskies shot an opponent season-high 52.0 percent against the Trojans. Washington built an 11-point halftime lead on nine of 13 shooting from three-point range and extended the lead to 17 before USC was able to cut it to five points with under seven minutes left. They would not get any closer as Washington hit 13 of its last 14 free throws. Nick Young led all scorers with 26 points on 11 of 15 shooting.
PAC-10 TOURNAMENT ON DECK -- The winner of the game between USC and Washington State will claim the second seed in the Pac-10 tournament, March 7-10 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. If USC wins, it would tie the Cougars at 12-6 and win the tiebreaker by virtue of its 2-0 record vs. Oregon. If teams tie and split the season series, the tiebreaker comes down to their record against the top opponents in the conference on down and the first difference is Oregon, which Washington State lost to twice. If USC loses, they would end up in a third place tie with the Arizona/Stanford winner and possibly Oregon. USC would win all tie breakers and become the No. 3 seed, except if it is just a tie with Stanford, which would win the tiebreaker by virtue of its one win vs. UCLA. Clear?
TAKING A DEFENSIVE STAND -- USC has held 17 of 30 opponents this season to under 40 percent shooting and 23 of 30 to a 42 percent or less shooting percentage. Only California (51.9 percent on Jan. 27), Arizona (50 percent on Feb. 15) and Washington (52.0 percent on March 1) have hit at least 50 percent of their shots against USC's defense. USC has held the opposition under 40 percent shooting in 27 of the 60 games Tim Floyd has been the head coach (45.0 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 38.3 shooting percentage, seventh best in the country (through games of March 1).
RISING UP THROUGH THE RANKS -- With the win at then No. 19 Arizona on Feb. 15, USC improved to 6-3 vs. ranked opponents this season. The six wins USC has against Top 25 teams are the most in a season since also beating six ranked teams during the 2002 season.
PRUITT JOINS 1,000 POINT CLUB -- Junior guard Gabe Pruitt scored 13 points on March 1 at Washington to give him 1,000 points exactly in his career, joining teammates senior Lodrick Stewart and junior Nick Young in the 1,000 career points scored club. Pruitt became the 32nd Trojan in history and third this season to reach 1,000 career points when he scored a layup with 4:12 left in the game to cut it to six points.
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 281-152 record in his 14 seasons as a college head coach at Idaho (1987-88), New Orleans (1989-94), Iowa State (1995-98) and USC (2006-07). His record at USC is 38-22. 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 38-22 record in his first 60 games at the helm for the Trojans. His victory total ties Leo Calland (1928-29) for the most by a USC head coach in his first two seasons.
1st yr. 2nd yr. Total Pct. Leo Calland (1928-29) 22-4 16-6 38-10 .792 Tim Floyd (2006-07) 17-13 21-9 38-22 .633 Forrest Twogood (1951-52) 21-6 16-14 37-20 .649
MAKING THEIR SHOTS COUNT -- USC is shooting .483 from the field this season (770-for-1595). 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 tied for fifth best in school history. USC has outshot the opponent in terms of percentage in 26 of the 30 games (not vs. South Carolina, at Stanford, at ASU and at UW). USC has also shot better than 50 percent in a game 13 times, while allowing its opponent to shoot 50 percent or better just three times.
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.
ANOTHER FRESHMAN SCHOOL RECORD FOR GIBSON -- Freshman Taj Gibson had eight rebounds on Feb. 22 to give him 234 this season, a new USC freshman single-season record. The previous record for most rebounds in a season by a Trojan freshman was 231 by Cliff Robinson in 1978. Gibson has registered eight or more rebounds in 20 of 30 games and now has 249 this season.
HOW GOOD HAS GIBSON BEEN? -- On Jan. 4 at Oregon Taj Gibson picked up his eighth double-double of the season (tied for 2nd most in the Pac-10) with 18 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocks. He has cracked the all-time USC freshman season top 10s in rebounds (1st with 249), free throws attempted (3rd with 125), free throws made (3rd with 76), points (6th with 354), blocks (1st with 54) and field goal percentage (3rd with .579). Also, his 8.3 rebounds per game average is second best all-time as a freshman at USC to Cliff Robinson's 9.6 in 1978.
STEWART SHOOTS DOWN SCHOOL RECORD -- Senior Lodrick Stewart made four three-pointers on Feb. 24 vs. Cal to give him 220 in his career, breaking the USC career three-point baskets made record of 218 which had been held by Brandon Granville (1999-02). Stewart now has made 66 of 147 three-point shots this season for a .449 percentage. The 66 makes are the ninth-most in a season by a Trojan (he made 70 in 2005, the sixth most).
THE SECOND CENTURY OF HOOPS AT USC -- The Trojans are beginning their second century of intercollegiate basketball and have a 1,413-1,013 record. The Trojans have had a .500 or better record in 71 of the first 100 seasons.
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME -- USC won its last six home games and finished 15-3 the first season at the Galen Center. The last time USC won more home games in a season was in 1961 when they went 16-3 at 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's home losses this season were 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.
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 17 games since then and shined. He scored 18 points, grabbed three rebounds, dished out a game-high six assists and had a steal in his first start on Dec. 28 vs. Washington. In his 17 starts, he has averaged 12.9 points (220 total), 4.1 assists (70 total), 1.6 steals (27 total) and 2.9 rebounds (49 total). In USC's last four games, Pruitt has combined to score 60 points, grab 17 rebounds, dish out 20 assists and make seven steals.
RISING UP THE BLOCK EXCHANGE -- 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 122 blocks this season are tied for the 6th most in school history. The 122 total blocks is third among Pac-10 teams. Taj Gibson leads the Trojans and is second among Pac-10 players with 54 blocks, senior Abdoulaye N'diaye has 17 and sophomore RouSean Cromwell has 15. 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 third 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 30 games, but none since Jan. 4 at Oregon. 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 21 of 30 games and has scored at least eight points in 26 of 30 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 1,378 career points, ranking him 11th all-time on USC's scoring list and third 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 66-for-147 from beyond the arc on the season (.449) and has a career three-point shooting percentage of .400 (221-for-552).
THE BATTLE OF THE BOARDS -- USC was outrebounded 29-26 by Washington on March 1, but has outrebounded 13 of its 30 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 13.7 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 16-4 this season. USC is 5-5 this season when taking more than 15 three-point shots in a game, including making a season-high 10 and taking a season-high 22 vs. Cal.
DEFENDING THE THREE -- Despite Washington's 55.6 percent shooting from three-point range on March 1, USC has held its opponents to 30.8 percent shooting from three-point range this season (197-for-639), best among Pac-10 teams. Conversely, USC leads all Pac-10 teams with a .395 percentage from three-point range, .413 in Pac-10 games.
FORTIFIED BY FRESHMEN -- The Trojan freshman are playing a big role for USC and have combined to start 54 times. First-year player Taj Gibson is the only Trojan to start all 30 games this season. Gibson leads the team in rebounding (8.3) and is third in scoring (11.8). The Trojans have six freshmen on the squad (one redshirting) and they have combined to score 35.1 percent of USC's points and have played 41.4 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 70.4 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. The last 6 games USC is just 66 percent.
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 1,364 career points to rank 12th on USC's all-time list, 14 points behind Lodrick Stewart. He has reached double figures in points in his last 18 games and in 27 of 30 games this season. In the last 12 games, Young has averaged 19.2 points (230 total).
TURNING AROUND THE TURNOVERS -- USC has had more assists than turnovers in nine of the last 18 games after accomplishing that feat once in the first 12 games. In the last 18 games, USC has 231 assists and 205 turnovers, but the total for the season is 388 assists and 453 turnovers. USC has averaged 11.4 turnovers per game in the last 18, after averaging 19.8 in the first 12 games.
CLOSING IN STYLE -- USC lost its final regular season game in the 2006 season at California, but prior to that had won its previous eight final contests of the regular season (1998-2005). When facing Washington State in its last regularly scheduled game of the season, USC is a perfect 6-0, winning in 1981 (R), 1990 (H), 1991 (H), 2000 (H), 2001 (R) and 2003 (H).
BREAKING DOWN THE SCHEDULE -- USC's current NCAA RPI rating (Feb. 26) is 49 and its 2007 schedule will see the Trojans play nine games against current NCAA RPI Top 27 teams and 20 against Top 100 teams. Also, 16 of USC's scheduled games will be against teams that have already won at least 17 games. USC has played four conference leaders, including Pac-10 leader UCLA twice, and 22 of their scheduled 31 games will be against teams that currently are playing .500 or better basketball.
TROY'S TERRIFIC TRIO -- The Trojan trio of Nick Young, Lodrick Stewart and Gabe Pruitt combined for 69 points in the win at Arizona on Feb. 15. It was the fourth time in their careers that the trio combined for over 60 points in a game. They combined to score 64 vs. Arizona on Jan. 18, 2007, 63 vs. Arizona on Feb. 2, 2006 and 60 at Oregon on Jan. 28, 2006. The trio had each reached double figures in scoring in seven consecutive games from Jan. 27-Feb. 22. They have combined to score 434 points and average 48.2 points in the last nine games. Also, all three players have reached the 1,000 career points scored mark during this season.
RARIFIED AIR FOR USC -- The Trojans have 21 wins, just the fourth time they have reached the 20-win plateau in the last 28 seasons (1992-24, 2001-24, 2002-22 and 2007-20). USC has achieved 21 wins in a season 11 times in school history. The USC record for wins in a season is 24 done three times (24-2 in 1971, 24-5 in 1974 and 24-6 in 1992). USC has achieved 22 wins or more only seven times.
SHARP-SHOOTING STEWART -- Senior guard Lodrick Stewart is third among conference players with a .449 shooting percentage from three-point range. He has been especially hot of late, hitting at a .507 clip (37-for-73) over USC's last 15 games.
YOUNG SELECTED TO DISTRICT 15 TEAM AGAIN -- For the second consecutive season, Nick Young was a first-team selection to the All-Dictrict 15 team by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
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 sixth among Pac-10 freshman in points per game with 11.8, leads all freshmen with 8.3 rebounds per game (4th among all Pac-10 players), leads all freshmen in field goal percentage at .579 (tops among conference players) and is second in blocks by freshmen (2nd overall).
Points Rebounds FG Pct. BlocksAnderson (CAL) 16.3 Gibson (USC) 8.3 Gibson (USC) .579 R. Lopez (STAN) 67Budinger (UA) 16.1 Anderson (CAL) 7.9 Hawes (UW) .538 Gibson (USC) 54Hawes (UW) 15.3 Budinger (UA) 6.0 Hawes (UW) 48Porter (ORE) 14.0 Hawes (UW) 6.0 B. Lopez (STAN) 43Polk (ASU) 12.6 R.Lopez (STAN) 5.9Gibson (USC) 11.8 B.Lopez (STAN) 5.7
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. He has upped his record to 54.
TROJANS NO STRANGER TO TIGHT CONTESTS -- USC is 6-3 in games decided by five points or less following the 69-65 win vs. Stanford on Feb. 22. The Trojans are also 5-2 in games decided by 6-10 points and have won 11 games decided by 10 points or less (11-5), second most among Pac-10 teams. Oregon is 12-4 in the close games with two of the losses coming at the hands of USC (2 points and 3 points).
A DEFENSIVE PERSPECTIVE -- Everyone knows by now that USC is holding opponents to a .383 field goal percentage, seventh1 best in the country. What you might not know is that the last time USC finished the season with a better field goal defense percentage was in 1960 when that held opponents to a .354 shooting percentage. The 2007 team's .383 percentage is sixth best in USC history.
N'DIAYE SWATS WAY TO TOP 10 -- With two blocks on Feb. 24 vs. California, Abdoulaye N'diaye now has 64 career blocks as a Trojan, 10th best in school history.
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