USC Travels To Oklahoma To Face The No. 6 Sooners
Dec. 3, 2008
The USC Trojans (5-2) will be at the No. 6 Oklahoma Sooners (6-0) in Norman, Okla. on Dec. 4 at 4 p.m. (PT) as part of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series. USC will be playing its first road game of the season. They are 4-0 at home and 1-2 in neutral site games this season. The game will be aired on ESPN2 with Fran Fraschilla and Bob Wischusen calling the action. The game will also be shown live on ESPN360.com.
BREAKING DOWN THE SOONERS -- Oklahoma won the NIT Season Tip-Off by defeating No. 10 Purdue 87-82 in overtime on Nov. 28. The Sooners (6-0) are off to their best start since winning their first 10 games in 2003. Preseason player of the year candidate sophomore forward Blake Griffin is averaging 25.7 points and 19.2 rebounds per game. USC and Oklahoma are 5-5 in the all-time series with USC winning 66-55 at the Galen Center last season.
TROJANS OVERCOME USF'S HOT SHOOTING -- Dwight Lewis scored a career-high 26 points to lead USC to a 74-69 victory over USF on Dec. 1 at the Galen Center. The Dons came out on fire, hitting eight of their first 11 shots to open up a 21-10 lead. The Trojans fought back and on the strength of a 9-0 run at the end of the half, took a 28-27 lead at the break. The teams traded the lead for the first 11 and a half minutes of the second half, but a dunk by Lewis at the 8:30 mark tied the game at 53-all and a slam by Leonard Washington with 8:03 left gave USC the lead at 55-53 and they held on the rest of the game. Taj Gibson had 13 rebounds and nine points, while Daniel Hackett had a season-high 18 points and six assists.
WAVES ON DECK: USC's next game will be vs. Pepperdine on Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m. in the Galen Center. Pepperdine started 1-5 and has games on Dec. 3 at CSULB, Dec. 7 vs. UCI and Dec. 13 vs. Pacific before facing USC. The Trojans lead the all-time series with the Waves 3-2, but lost the last time they met 78-77 on Dec. 6, 2001 at the Forum.
TROJANS WINNING THE BOARD GAME: So far this season, USC has enjoyed an 10.6 rebound edge per game (42.9-32.3). The Trojans have outrebounded the opposition in all seven games. USC had the same amount of rebounds as its opponents last season, and lost the battle of the boards the two previous seasons. The most consecutive games USC has had more rebounds than its opponent in the Tim Floyd era is eight (Feb. 21-March 14, 2008).
ENJOYING THE HOME COOKING: USC is 4-0 at the Galen Center this season and have won eight consecutive home games dating back to the 2007-08 season. USC's longest winning streak at the Galen Center is nine games set Nov. 18-Dec. 28, 2006 during the inaugural season.
USC TAKES TO THE ROAD: USC's game at Oklahoma on Dec. 4 will be the first true road game of the season. USC was 7-4 in road games last season, winning five of its last seven road contests.
TROJANS IN THE RANKINGS -- USC is currently ranked No. 40 in the Associated Press Poll and are unranked in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll.
TROJANS ALL-ACCESS PROVIDES EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE -- USC is offering 11 games this season exclusively on Trojans All-Access, as the only video coverage. Fans can sign up at USCTrojans.com and watch selected games on their computers. Remaining games to be shown exclusively on Trojans All-Access are: Dec. 15 vs. Pepperdine, Dec. 20 vs. North Dakota St., Dec. 28 vs. Oral Roberts, Jan. 2 at Oregon (delayed), Jan. 15 vs. Arizona St. (delayed).
INTERNATIONAL FLAVOR -- USC's roster includes four players from outside of the country. Guards Daniel Hackett from Italy and Ryan Wetherell from Canada begin their third season with the Trojans, while forward Mamadou Diarra of Mali enters his second and forward Nikola Vucevic from Montenegro begins his first season at USC.
INJURY UPDATES -- Kasey Cunningham, injured on Nov. 23 vs. Missouri, had reconstructive surgery to repair the ACL in his left knee on Nov. 26. He is expected to miss the remainder of the season. Marcus Simmons has a sprained left ankle and is listed as day-to-day.
GIBSON A PRESEASON WOODEN AWARD CANDIDATE -- For the second consecutive season, USC forward Taj Gibson is listed as one of the 50 preseason Wooden Award candidates. Gibson is the first Trojan so listed since 2001 when Sam Clancy and David Bluthenthal were Wooden Award candidates and Clancy was a Naismith candidate. Gibson averaged 10.8 points and 7.8 rebounds as a sophomore, while setting the USC single-season blocked shots record with 83. Gibson is also listed as an Athlon Preseason All-American (HM) and No. 6 on Lindy's list of top centers.
TAJ HAS BEEN A TOWER OF POWER -- Taj Gibson has averaged 15.7 points, 11.1 rebounds and 3.6 blocks in USC's first seven games, including his 17th, 18th and 19th career double-doubles (22 points/10 rebounds vs. NMSU, 19 points/18 rebounds vs. SHU and 17 points/15 rebounds vs. UTC). The 22 points on Nov. 18 vs. NMSU tied a career high and the 18 rebounds on Nov. 20 vs. SHU both tied career highs. His 18 rebounds vs. Seton Hall, along with SHU's John Garcia, established a new Puerto Rico Tip-Off single-game record.
DEROZAN NAMED TO PRESEASON ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM -- USC freshman DeMar DeRozan has been named to the CollegeHoops.net All-Freshman team. DeRozan was a McDonald's All-American and averaged 29.2 points his senior season at Compton High in Compton, Calif. Athlon Sports also named DeRozan to the preseason Pac-10 all-conference third team. DeRozan is also listed as a third-team selection to The Sporting News Preseason All-America team, the No. 9 small forward by Lindy's and the No. 3 freshman by Lindy's.
HACKETT IS MONEY FROM THE LINE -- USC junior Daniel Hackett made .823 percent of his free throws last season (79 of 96) to finish fifth among Pac-10 players from the line. He is 26-for-31 this season and his career free throw percentage of .811 (189 of 233) currently ranks second all-time among Trojan players. Dating back to the game on March 6, 2008 vs. California, Hackett made 18 consecutive free throws before missing his final one against New Mexico St. on Nov. 18 and has hit 37 of his last 42 (.881).
LEWIS LIGHTING IT UP -- Junior Dwight Lewis entered the season with 51 career three-pointers made, the most on the USC roster. He now needs seven three-point baskets this season to crack the Trojans' all-time top 20 in shots made from beyond the arc. Lewis scored a career-high 26 points in the 74-69 win vs. USF on Dec. 1 and has scored in double figures in all seven games this season. Prior to this season, his longest streak of consecutive games scoring in double figures was four.
STEPHESON WAIVER PETITION DENIED -- Talented forward Alex Stepheson had his transfer waiver petition denied by the NCAA on Nov. 19 and will not be eligible for competition this season. Stepheson had requested eligibility for USC this season after transferring from North Carolina this fall due to family health concerns.
FACING THE BEST -- USC's 2008-09 schedule features a potential 22 games against teams that finished .500 or better in 2007-08, including 13 that won 20 or more games. Also, eight of the teams that USC is set to face were in last year's tournament, including two games each with the five other Pac-10 teams which were in the NCAA Tournament. 'We think we have put together a great schedule for the USC fans,' said Floyd. 'At the same time, as challenging as our schedule was last season with Kansas, Memphis and Oklahoma, if you look at the RPI from a year ago this non-conference slate is even tougher.'
DRIVEN BY DEFENSE -- USC has held 40 teams to under 60 points in Tim Floyd's first 107 games as USC's head coach. The Trojans held 20 of their opponents last season to 39.2 percent shooting or less, and have held 56 teams in the first 107 games under Floyd to 40 percent shooting or less. USC was outshot from the field in just five of 33 games last season. USC has had a better shooting percentage that its opponent in 65 of the last 77 games.