USC Takes On Oregon In Pac-10 Tournament Finals Saturday
March 10, 2007
LOS ANGELES -- The USC men's basketball team (23-10, 11-7) will face No. 16 Oregon (25-7, 11-7) on March 10 at 3 p.m. at Staples Center in the finals of the 2007 Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament. USC's 23 victories this season are the most since going 24-10 in 2001. USC has won a school-record 24 games three other times, 24-2 in 1971, 24-5 in 1974 and 24-6 in 1992.
TROJANS AT THE PAC-10 TOURNAMENT -- USC is 8-8 all-time in Pac-10 Tournament games. USC reached the finals in 2002 (Arizona) and 2003 (Oregon), but lost both times. Today's game is the first Pac-10 Tournament finals rematch in the 10-year history of the tournament.
SCOUTING OREGON -- Oregon defeated California 81-63 last night and has won five consecutive games by an average margin of victory of over 14 points. The Ducks have five players averaging double figures in scoring, led by Aaron Brooks' 17.7 average. USC won both regular season games against Oregon, winning 84-82 in Eugene, Ore. on Jan. 4 and 71-68 in Los Angeles, Calif. on Feb. 3. The Trojans' win on Jan. 4 snapped the Ducks' 13-game winning streak to start the season.
USC vs. OREGON IN THE PAC-10 TOURNEY -- USC is 1-2 in games against Oregon in the Pac-10 Tournament. Oregon defeated USC 51-49 in first round of the first Pac-10 Tournament in 1987 held at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, Calif. USC defeated Oregon 89-78 in the semifinals of the 2002 tournament held at Staples Center and then lost 74-66 to the Ducks in the 2003 Pac-10 finals at Staples Center. In fact, the last time either USC or Oregon was in the Pac-10 Championship game was in 2003.
THIRD TIME IS THE CHARM AGAINST WASHINGTON STATE -- Gabe Pruitt hit six of seven three-point attempts and finished with a game-high 26 points to lead No. 3 seed USC to a 70-61 win vs. No. 2 seed Washington State last night at Staples Center. The two teams met on March 3 in Pullman, Wash. and played a double-overtime game which gave Washington State, 88-86 victors, the No. 2 seed in the tournament and completed a season sweep for the Cougars over the Trojans. The Trojans committed a season-low eight turnovers and hit 62.5 percent of their three-point shots in the game. USC also held WSU to 36.1 percent shooting.
TAKING A DEFENSIVE STAND -- USC has held 18 of 33 opponents this season to under 40 percent shooting and 24 of 33 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 28 of the 63 games Tim Floyd has been the head coach (44.4 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 38.7 shooting percentage, ninth best in the country (through games of March 8).
RISING UP THROUGH THE RANKS -- With the win last night vs. No. 11, USC picked up its seventh win against Top 25 teams and is 7-4 vs. ranked opponents this season.
GIBSON GETS MORE FRESHMAN HONORS -- USC freshman forward Taj Gibson was selected on March 8 as honorable mention All-Freshman by Collegehoops.net.
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 283-153 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 40-23. 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 MOST WINS BY A TROJAN COACH IN FIRST TWO SEASONS -- USC head coach Tim Floyd has a 40-23 record in his first 63 games at the helm for the Trojans. His victory total surpasses Leo Calland (1928-29) for the most by a USC head coach in his first two seasons.
1st yr. 2nd yr. Total Pct. Tim Floyd (2006-07) 17-13 23-10 40-23 .635 Leo Calland (1928-29) 22-4 16-6 38-10 .792 Forrest Twogood (1951-52) 21-6 16-14 37-20 .649
MAKING THEIR SHOTS COUNT -- USC is shooting .481 from the field this season (845-for-1757). 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 sixth best in school history. USC has outshot the opponent in terms of percentage in 28 of the 33 games (not vs. South Carolina, at Stanford, at ASU, at UW and vs. Stanford at Pac-10s). USC has also shot 50 percent or better in a game 14 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 23 of 33 games and now has 277 this season.
HOW GOOD HAS GIBSON BEEN? -- On March 8 vs. Stanford Taj Gibson picked up his ninth double-double of the season (2nd most in the Pac-10) with 13 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. He has cracked the all-time USC freshman season top 10s in rebounds (1st with 277), free throws attempted (2nd with 146), free throws made (3rd with 89), points (4th with 393), blocks (1st with 60) and field goal percentage (4th with .561). Also, his 8.4 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 70 of 158 three-point shots this season for a .443 percentage. The 70 makes ties his career-best 2005 total which ranks sixth all-time for a single season at USC.
THE SECOND CENTURY OF HOOPS AT USC -- The Trojans are beginning their second century of intercollegiate basketball and have a 1,415-1,014 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 20 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 20 starts, he has averaged 14.1 points (282 total), 4.4 assists (87 total), 1.8 steals (36 total) and 2.7 rebounds (54 total). In USC's last seven games, Pruitt has combined to score 122 points, grab 22 rebounds, dish out 37 assists and make 16 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 132 blocks this season are the fourth most in school history. The 132 total blocks is third among Pac-10 teams. Taj Gibson leads the Trojans and is second among Pac-10 players with 60 blocks, senior Abdoulaye N'diaye has 17 and sophomore RouSean Cromwell has 16. Gibson had seven blocks on Jan. 4 at Oregon, tying him for the fourth best single-game total by a Trojan.
GIBSON MADE 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 had eight double-doubles (points-rebounds) in his first 16 games, and picked up his ninth on March 8 vs. Stanford. He scored in double figures in his first 5 games, the first USC freshman to score in double digits in his first 5 collegiate games since Tom Lewis during the 1985-86 season (first nine games). He has reached double figures in scoring in 24 of 33 games and has scored at least eight points in 29 of 33 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 1,421 career points, ranking him 11th all-time on USC's scoring list. 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 70-for-158 from beyond the arc on the season (.443) and has a career three-point shooting percentage of .400 (225-for-563).
THE BATTLE OF THE BOARDS -- USC was outrebounded 33-28 by Washington State on March 9, but has outrebounded 14 of its 33 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 13.9 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 16-5 this season. USC is 7-5 this season when taking more than 15 three-point shots in a game. USC tied a season high with 10 three-point baskets on March 9 vs. WSU.
DEFENDING THE THREE -- Despite Washington's 55.6 percent shooting from three-point range on March 1, USC has held its opponents to 31.3 percent shooting from three-point range this season (221-for-707), second to Oregon among Pac-10 teams. Conversely, USC leads all Pac-10 teams with a .404 percentage from three-point range, .409 in Pac-10 games.
FORTIFIED BY FRESHMEN -- The Trojan freshman are playing a big role for USC and have combined to start 58 times. First-year player Taj Gibson is the only Trojan to start all 33 games this season. Gibson leads the team in rebounding (8.4) and is fourth in scoring (11.9). The Trojans have six freshmen on the squad (one redshirting) and they have combined to score 34.4 percent of USC's points and have played 40.8 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 70.9 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 1,419 career points to rank 12th on USC's all-time list, two points behind Lodrick Stewart. He has reached double figures in points in his last 21 games and in 30 of 33 games this season. In the last 15 games, Young has averaged 19.0 points (285 total).
TURNING AROUND THE TURNOVERS -- USC has had as many or more assists as turnovers in 12 of the last 21 games after accomplishing that feat once in the first 12 games. In the last 21 games, USC has 269 assists and 242 turnovers, but the total for the season is 426 assists and 490 turnovers. USC has averaged 11.5 turnovers per game in the last 21, after averaging 19.8 in the first 12 games.
BREAKING DOWN THE SCHEDULE -- USC's current NCAA RPI rating (March 5) is 54. USC has played 10 games against Top 28 RPI teams and 22 games against teams in the top 101 in RPI. To put that in perspective, the No. 1 NCAA RPI team UCLA has 22 games against the top 101. Twenty of USC's 33 games have been against teams that won 17 or more games. USC has played four conference leaders, including Pac-10 leader UCLA twice. Thirteen of USC's games this season were against teams currently receiving AP Top 25 votes.
TROY'S TERRIFIC TRIO -- The Trojan trio of Nick Young, Lodrick Stewart and Gabe Pruitt combined for 60 points in the loss at Washington State on March 3. It was the fifth time in their careers that the trio combined for over 60 points in a game. They also combined to score 69 at Arizona on Feb. 15, 2007, 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 594 points and average 49.5 points in the last 12 games. Also, all three players have reached the 1,000 career points scored mark during this season.
RARIFIED AIR FOR USC -- The Trojans have 23 wins, just the fourth time they have reached the 20-win plateau in the last 28 seasons (1992-24, 2001-24, 2002-22 and 2007-23). USC has achieved 23 wins in a season six times in school history. The USC record for wins in a season is 24 done four times (24-2 in 1971, 24-5 in 1974, 24-6 in 1992 and 24-10 in 2001).
TROJANS FALL SHORT OF RARE FEAT -- It took until the final two regular season games, but USC lost consecutive games for the first time this season. The double-overtime defeat at Washington State kept USC from going through regular season play without back-to-back losses for the first time since the 1974 season. USC had been one of 16 NCAA teams not to lose consecutive games this season.
SHARP-SHOOTING STEWART -- Senior guard Lodrick Stewart is second among conference players with a .443 shooting percentage from three-point range, tops in Pac-10 play (.483). He has been especially hot of late, hitting at a .488 clip (41-for-84) over USC's last 18 games.
YOUNG GETS HONORS 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, first-team selection to the All-District 9 team by the U.S. Basketball Writer's Association and All-Pac-10 First Team, as voted on by Pac-10 head coaches.
ALL-AROUND EFFORT FROM YOUNG -- Junior Nick Young finished the regular season second among Pac-10 players in scoring (17.5), fifth in field goal percentage (.535), fourth in three-point percentage (.438) and fourth in total minutes played (1,025).
GIBSON NAMED TO PAC-10 ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM -- USC freshman forward Taj Gibson was one of six players selected to the 2007 Pac-10 All-Freshman team. Gibson's solid first season sees his named littered up and down the conference leader charts. Gibson is fourth among Pac-10 players in rebounds with an 8.4 average (1st among freshmen), tops in field goal percentage at .561 (1st among freshmen), second in blocks with 60 (2nd among freshmen) and second in defensive rebounds with 192 (1st among freshmen). His 11.9 scoring average is fourth on the Trojans and sixth among conference freshmen.
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. Pruitt scored a season-high 26 points on March 9 vs. Washington State in the Pac-10 semifinals.
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 60.
TROJANS NO STRANGER TO TIGHT CONTESTS -- USC is 7-4 in games decided by five points or less following the 83-79 overtime win vs. Stanford on March 9. The Trojans are also 6-2 in games decided by 6-10 points and have won 13 games decided by 10 points or less (13-6), 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 .387 field goal percentage, seventh 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 .387 percentage is sixth best in USC history.