USC Visits UCLA Wednesday For Pac-10 Clash
Feb. 3, 2009
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- The USC Trojans (15-6, 6-3) will face the UCLA Bruins (17-4, 7-2) at Pauley Pavilion on Feb. 4 at 7:30 p.m. The game will be carried by Prime Ticket with Bill Macdonald, Don MacLean and Chris McGee providing commentary. USC is 10-3 in its last 13 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 21 games, USC was 14-7, 5-4.
BREAKING DOWN THE BRUINS -- UCLA defeated USC 64-60 at the Galen Center on Jan. 11, the only home loss for the Trojans this season. UCLA is 11-1 at home this season and is coming off a 97-63 victory over Stanford on Jan. 31. USC won 72-63 at UCLA last season and have split the last six games at Pauley Pavilion. 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.
TROJANS CLAMP DOWN CAL -- USC's defense held California to 40.7 percent shooting and the Trojans overcame a five-point second half deficit to win 73-62 at the Galen Center on Jan. 31. Cal entered the game with the nation's seventh-best shooting percentage of 49.5 and the top mark from three-point range (47.6 percent), but were held to 12.5 percent (2-for-16) from beyond the arc. A jumper in the paint by DeMar DeRozan tied the game at 50-all with just over eight minutes left in the game, then Dwight Lewis and Daniel Hackett followed with layups and the Trojans never looked back. DeRozan had a game-high 19 points and Taj Gibson had his 11th double-double of the season with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
ARIZONA ON DECK -- USC's next game will be at Arizona (14-8, 4-5) in Tucson, Ariz. on Feb. 12 at 8:30 p.m. Arizona will play at Oregon and Oregon State this week before hosting the Trojans. USC defeated Arizona 65-64 at the Galen Center on Jan. 17 when Daniel Hackett hit a free throw with 1.2 seconds left. Arizona leads the all-time series with USC, 54-38. USC has won the last two games at the McKale Center, after losing the previous 21 games at Arizona. Forward Jordan Hill leads the Wildcats in scoring and is averaging a double-double with 18.4 points and 12.0 rebounds per game.
FACING THE BEST -- Through games of Feb. 2, USC's opponents have a combined 263-182 record, five of USC's opponents are a combined 37-72, while the other 16 are 226-110. Sixteen of USC's 21 opponents have a .500 or better record and 14 of those teams have won 11 or more games. Only 20 teams have played a higher percentage of games against teams at .500 or better than USC's 76.2 percent (per STATS, LLC). USC's last seven opponents have a combined 104-43 record and USC is 5-2 in those games.
ROUGH ROAD AHEAD -- Tonight's game at UCLA begins a stretch of three-straight road games for USC. The Trojans will next play at Arizona on Feb. 12 and then at Arizona State on Feb. 15. The combined home records of USC's next three opponents is 30-5.
BALANCING ACT -- Four of USC's five starters are averaging 13 points per game in Pac-10 play: Gibson (13.9), Lewis (13.7), DeRozan (13.2) and Hackett (13.2).
DESPITE MISSING PIECES, FLOYD PUTS PUZZLE TOGETHER - USC is 6-3 in conference play despite having the whole team available for three 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. The Trojans have used six different starting lineups in the nine Pac-10 games.
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 10 games, Johnson has averaged 5.0 points and 2.6 rebounds in 16.9 minutes. He scored a season-high 9 points, including a pair of crowd-pleasing dunks vs. Stanford on Jan. 29, then had three rebounds and scored six points, which included a posterizing dunk over Cal's Jorge Gutierrez. 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. Vucevic had 4 points and 4 rebounds in 11 minutes vs. California on Jan. 31.
IS GIBSON SUPERMAN? -- Taj Gibson was diagnosed on Monday with an pneumonia, then practiced Wednesday and scored 20 points in 38 minutes Thursday vs. Stanford, then dropped in 12 points and grabbed 13 rebounds vs. California on Jan. 31. He has averaged 14.9 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks in USC's first 21 games, including 11 double-doubles giving him 27 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 20 of 21 games and has 8 rebounds or more in 16 of 21 games. Gibson has scored in double figures in 13 consecutive games, the second-longest current streak in the Pac-10.
GIBSON JOINS ELITE SWAT TEAM -- Taj Gibson has 214 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 1,119 points, 24th all time in scoring by a Trojan. Don Carfino is 23rd on USC's all-time scoring list with 1,127 points and Jeff Trepagnier is 22nd with 1,128 points.
DEROZAN DELIVERING -- USC freshman DeMar DeRozan scored a game-high 19 points in the win vs. California on Jan. 31 and has averaged 14.3 points (172) and 5.7 rebounds (68) in his last 12 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.
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 third in the Pac-10 with 5.0 assists per game and in total assists with 106. He currently has 303 in his career, 10th all-time by a Trojan. Rich Grande (1986-89) is 9th with 305 career assists. He also has 33 steals, third best in the Pac-10.
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 31 three-pointers this season and 82 in his career to move into 19th place on USC's all-time three-pointers made list, 6 behind O.J. Mayo who made 88 last season to rank 18th on the Trojans' all-time list. 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 15 of 19 games overall.
ENJOYING THE HOME COOKING -- USC is 12-1 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 12 of its first 13 home games was during the 1991-92 season (14-1).
BREAKING DOWN THE LOSSES -- Although USC has lost six games this season, they led most of the way against Seton Hall (11-9), Missouri (18-4) and Oregon St. (10-10) and fell by a point at then No. 6 Oklahoma (21-1), by four to then No. 7 UCLA (17-4) and by five at Washington (16-5). The combined record of the teams USC lost to is 93-33 (through games of Feb. 2).
DRIVEN BY DEFENSE -- USC has held 48 teams to 60 points or less in Tim Floyd's first 121 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 121 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 77 of the last 91 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 17 of 21 games this season. USC has enjoyed a 6.1 rebound edge per game, good for 28th 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.