USC Takes On Cal Saturday At Galen
Jan. 30, 2009
The USC Trojans (14-6, 5-3) will host the California Golden Bears (16-5, 5-3) at the Galen Center on Jan. 31 at 8:30 p.m. The game will be carried by FSN with Ted Robinson, Marques Johnson and Michael Eaves providing commentary. USC is 9-3 in its last 12 games with the losses being in overtime at Oregon St., by four to then No. 10/7 UCLA and by five at Washington. Last season after 20 games, USC was 13-7, 4-4.
BREAKING DOWN THE BEARS -- California is coming off an 81-66 loss at UCLA on Thursday, but are in a three-way tie along with USC and Arizona State for third place in the conference. Junior Jerome Randle leads four Bears in double figures in scoring with an 18.6 average. Cal has started the same five players in all 21 games this season. USC trails in the all-time series with California, 116-125, but have won four of the last five at home vs. the Bears.
TROJANS SURVIVE VS. STANFORD -- Lawrence Hill's baseline turnaround jumper rimmed out at the buzzer and USC came away with a 70-69 win vs. Stanford at the Galen Center on Jan. 29. The Trojans trailed 38-33 at halftime and the deficit grew to six points with just under 14 minutes left, before the Trojans rallied. Taj Gibson scored 20 points and Daniel Hackett and Leonard Washington chipped in with 12 points each. Marcus Johnson's breakaway dunk at the 7:44 mark broke a 55-all tie and USC never trailed the rest of the way.
UCLA ON DECK -- USC's next game will be at crosstown rival UCLA (16-4, 6-2) on Feb. 4 at 7:30 p.m. The Bruins host Stanford on Jan. 31 at Pauley Pavilion before playing USC. The Trojans won 72-63 at UCLA last season and have split the last six games at Pauley. USC trails in the all-time series with the Bruins, 100-127. Senior Darren Collison leads UCLA with a 14.6 average and with 5.4 assists per game.
GIBSON JOINS ELITE SWAT TEAM -- Taj Gibson has 212 career blocks, just the fourth Pac-10 player to achieve at least 200 career blocks, the others being Anthony Cook of Arizona (1986-89) with 278, Channing Frye of Arizona (2002-05) with 258 and Michael Stewart of California (1994-97) with 207. Gibson recorded his 196th career block on Jan. 2 at Oregon to surpass Sam Clancy's (1999-02) previous USC record of 195. Gibson also has been rising up the USC career scoring charts and currently has 1,107 points, tied with Bill Sharman for 25th all time in scoring by a Trojan. Jaha WIlson is 24th on USC's all-time scoring list with 1,116 points and Don Cartino is 23rd with 1,127 points.
DEROZAN DELIVERING -- USC freshman DeMar DeRozan has averaged 13.9 points (153) and 5.8 rebounds (64) in his last 11 games. He reached double figures in scoring 13-straight games before being held to five on Jan. 24 at WSU. He scored a career-high 22 points in the win vs. ASU on Jan. 15. On Jan. 2 at Oregon, he had his first career double-double with 14 points and a career-best 12 rebounds.
DESPITE MISSING PIECES, FLOYD PUTS PUZZLE TOGETHER - USC is 5-3 in conference play despite having the whole team available for two games. Already without forwards Kasey Cunningham for most of the season and Alex Stepheson for the entire season, the Trojans were forced to play the first four conference games without forward Leonard Washington (high left ankle sprain), and then lost leading scorer guard Dwight Lewis (left ankle sprain) for the two games in Washington.
JOHNSON MAKING IMPACT -- USC guard/forward Marcus Johnson, who transfered to USC from UConn last year and had to sit out the first semester, has immediately stepped in an had an impact. In his first nine games, Johnson has averaged 4.9 points and 2.6 rebounds in 16.2 minutes. He scored a season-high 9 points, including a pair of crowd-pleasing dunks vs. Stanford on Jan. 29. He scored 7 points, including the basket to give USC the lead, in the win at WSU on Jan. 24. He scored 8 points at Washington on Jan. 22 and made his first start on Jan. 11 vs. UCLA, scoring 4 points and grabbing 4 rebounds in 17 minutes of action. In his first game for USC vs. ORU on Dec. 28, Johnson scored six points, grabbed two rebounds and had three steals. Johnson played in part of one exhibition game for UConn last season before transferring and thus had to sit out the first semester. He has a career high of 20 points on Dec. 18, 2005 vs. UNH.
V FOR VUCEVIC -- Freshman forward made his first start on Jan. 24 at Washington State and notched career highs in points with 8 and rebounds with 5. He played 30 minutes in that game, after playing a total of 67 minutes in USC's first 18 contests. He also entered that game with a total of 10 points on the season. In the last game vs. Stanford, he played 2 scoreless minutes.
IS GIBSON SUPERMAN? -- Taj Gibson was diagnosed on Monday with an pneumonia, then returned to practice Wednesday and played 38 minutes Thursday, scoring 20 points. He has averaged 15.0 points, 10.1 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in USC's first 20 games, including 10 double-doubles giving him 26 in his career. The last Trojan to average a double-double was Jaha Wilson in 1994-95 (14.2 pts/10.1 reb.). The 25 points on Dec. 15 vs. Pepperdine was a career high and the 18 rebounds on Nov. 20 vs. SHU and Dec. 20 vs. NDSU tied a career high. Gibson has scored in double figures in 19 of 20 games and has 8 rebounds or more in 15 of 20 games. For the second consecutive season, he was listed as one of the 50 preseason Wooden Award candidates.
HE CAN SURE HACKETT -- Junior point guard Daniel Hackett recorded a career-high 13 assists in the game at Oklahoma on Dec. 4. His assist total was the most by a Trojan since Brandon Granville set the school record with 15 vs. Memphis on Nov. 23, 1999. Hackett's 13 assists are tied for the fourth most in a single game by a USC player, along with Larry Friend (13 on Dec. 6, 1985 vs. ASU) and Casey Jones (13 on Dec. 18, 1976 vs. Baylor). Hackett is second in the Pac-10 with 5.2 assists per game and third in total assists with 104. He currently has 301 in his career, 10th all-time by a Trojan. Rich Grande (1986-89) is 9th with 305 career assists. He also has 32 steals, third best in the Pac-10.
HACKETT TOEING 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 snapped out of a 6-game slump from the line (17-for-30) by going 11-for-14 at WSU on Jan. 24, matching a career high in made free throws. He is 76-for-100 (.760) for the season. Before the slump he had the best career FT shooting percentage by a Trojan and now stands tied for 10th with a .791 percentage (239-for-302). Hackett made his first 11 free throws on Dec. 22 vs. Georgia Tech before missing his final one. He had made 19 consecutive free throws before the miss and has hit 87 of his last 111 (.784). Harol Miner is USC's all-time leader in career FT percentage at .814.
THE DWIGHT STUFF -- Junior Dwight Lewis came off the bench and broke out of a two-game shooting slump (4-for-24) to scored 18 points vs. ASU on Jan. 15. In the game, he hit a career-best five three-pointers. He followed that game up with 21 points vs. Arizona on Jan. 17. He missed the next two games with a sprained left ankle, but returned to score 9 points an make 3 steals in the win vs. Stanford on Jan. 29. He has made a team-leading 30 three-pointers this season and 81 in his career to move into 19th place on USC's all-time three-pointers made list, past current USC Associate AD Brandon Martin (1993-96) who made 77 career three-pointers. Lewis scored a career-high 26 points in the 74-69 win vs. USF on Dec. 1 and followed that up with 25 points at Oklahoma on Dec. 4, at the time his two best career scoring outputs. He matched his career high with 26 points at Oregon on Jan. 2, including making 4 three-pointers. Lewis scored in double figures in a career-high 9 straight games to start this season and in 14 of 18 games overall.
ENJOYING THE HOME COOKING -- USC is 11-1 at home this season. The loss to UCLA on Jan. 11 snapped an 8-game home winning streak this season and a 12-game home winning streak at the Galen Center dating back to 2007-08, a Galen Center record. The last time USC won 11 of its first 12 home games was during the 2000-01 season. The last time USC started 12-1 at home was the 1992 season (14-1).
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. Through games of Jan. 29 USC's opponents have a combined 235-170 record, five of USC's opponents are a combined 35-69, while the other 15 are 200-101. Eleven of USC's 20 opponents have a .500 or better record and 13 of those teams have won 10 or more games. USC's last six opponents have a combined 85-34 record and USC is 4-2 in those games.
BREAKING DOWN THE LOSSES -- Although USC has lost six games this season, they led most of the way against Seton Hall (11-9), Missouri (17-4) and Oregon St. (9-10) and fell by a point at then No. 6 Oklahoma (20-1), by four to then No. 7 UCLA (16-4) and by five at Washington (15-5). The combined record of the teams USC lost to is 88-33 (through games of Jan. 29).
DRIVEN BY DEFENSE -- USC has held 48 teams to 60 points or less in Tim Floyd's first 120 games as USC's head coach, including nine this season. The Trojans held 20 of their opponents last season to 39.2 percent shooting or less, and have held 63 teams under 40 percent shooting in the first 120 games under Floyd, 11 times this season. USC was outshot from the field in just five of 33 games last season and only three times this season (Missouri, OSU & Uof A). USC has had a better shooting percentage that its opponent in 76 of the last 90 games.
TROJANS WINNING THE BOARD GAME -- USC outrebounded the opposition in its first 11 games before being beaten on the glass 34-32 by Oral Roberts on Dec. 29, but has had a rebounding edge in 16 of 20 games this season. USC has enjoyed a 6.3 rebound edge per game, good for 30th in the country. The 11 consecutive games USC had more rebounds than its opponent is the best stretch in the Tim Floyd era. USC was outrebounded in 17 of 33 games last season.