USC Heads To Arizona To Face The Wildcats On Thursday
Feb. 9, 2009
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- The USC Trojans (15-7, 6-4) will face the Arizona Wildcast (16-8, 6-5) at the McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz. on Feb. 12 at 8:30 p.m. The game will be carried by FSN. USC is 10-4 in its last 14 games with the losses being in overtime at Oregon St., by four to then 10/7 UCLA, by five at Washington and by 16 at then No. 15/12 UCLA. Last season after 22 games USC was also 15-7, 6-4.
BREAKING DOWN THE WILDCATS -- Arizona has won five consecutive games while averaging 82.2 points in those contest. They are coming of a road sweep at the Oregon schools, winning 56-53 at Oregon State and 87-77 at Oregon. A trio of juniors lead the Wildcats in scoring: Chase Budinger (17.7), Jordan Hill (18.3) and Nic Wise (13.7). 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.
TROJANS FALL AT UCLA -- UCLA blitzed USC early hitting five of their first six three-point shots and opening a 36-13 lead en route to a 76-60 win at Pauley Pavilion on Feb. 4. The Bruins hit 58.3 percent of their shots in the first half, but were held to 34.5 percent shooting in the second half, 0-for-8 from three-point range. USC made 46.0 percent of its shots, but was outrebounded by five and committed a season-high 23 turnovers. Dwight Lewis had 20 points and DeMar DeRozan added 15 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
ARIZONA STATE ON DECK -- The Trojans' next game will be at Arizona State (18-5, 7-4) on Sunday, Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. The Sun Devils are coming off a road sweep in Oregon, defeating Oregon 66-57 and Oregon State 49-38. James Harden leads Arizona State with a 21.9 scoring average, tops in the conference. USC defeated ASU 61-49 on Jan. 15 at the Galen Center and leads the all-time series 47-31.
FACING THE BEST -- Through games of Feb. 9, USC's opponents have a combined 308-203 record, four of USC's opponents are a combined 29-65, while the other 18 are 279-138. Fourteen of USC's 22 opponents have a .500 or better record and 16 of those teams have won 11 or more games. USC's last eight opponents have a combined 133-51 record and USC is 5-3 in those games.
TROJANS RIDING ROUGH ROAD -- USC is in the midst of three straight road games and is 2-4 on the road this season. USC lost 76-60 at UCLA (13-1 at home) on Feb. 4, now will play at Arizona (11-2 at home) on Feb. 12 and then at Arizona State (8-2 at home) on Feb. 15. The combined home records of USC's opponents in these games is 32-5.
MAGICAL MARKS -- USC has an 8-0 record when it has less turnovers than the opposition and is also 8-0 when holding the opponent to under 60 points. The Trojans are 10-1 when holding opponents under 40-percent from the field. USC is 12-2 in games they lead with five minutes left.
DESPITE MISSING PIECES, FLOYD PUTS PUZZLE TOGETHER - USC is 6-4 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. Sixth-man Marcus Johnson missed the UCLA game with a strained right rotator cuff. The Trojans have used six different starting lineups in the 10 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 stepped in an had an immediate 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 3 rebounds and scored 6 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. Johnson played in part of one exhibition game for UConn last season before transferring and thus had to sit out the first semester.
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. He came off the bench at UCLA on Feb. 4 and matched a career-high with 8 points and grabbed a career-high 6 rebounds and 4 steals.
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. Ryan Wetherell has an eye injury/blurring...he began limited practice the week of Jan. 26. Marcus Johnson has a right rotator cuff strain and is day-to-day.
TAJ HAS BEEN A TOWER OF POWER -- Taj Gibson was diagnosed on Jan. 26 with an pneumonia, then practiced Jan. 28 and scored 20 points in 38 minutes on Jan. 29 vs. Stanford, then dropped in 12 points and grabbed 13 rebounds vs. California on Jan. 31. He has averaged 14.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.9 blocks in USC's first 22 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 22 games and has 8 rebounds or more in 16 of 22 games. Gibson has been named to the Midseason Top 30 for the Wooden Award.
GIBSON JOINS ELITE SWAT TEAM -- Taj Gibson has 216 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 1,121 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 14.4 points (187) and 5.8 rebounds (76) in his last 13 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 scored 15 points and had 8 rebounds in the game at UCLA on Feb. 4.
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 tied for 1st in the Pac-10 with 5.0 assists per game and is 3rd in total assists with 109. He currently has 306 in his career, 9th all-time by a Trojan. Burt Harris (1993-95) is 8th with 308 career assists. He also has 34 steals, 4th in the Pac-10.
THE DWIGHT STUFF -- Junior Dwight Lewis led USC with 20 points at UCLA on Feb. 4, a sign he is returning to form after missing 2 games with a sprained left ankle. Before the injury, he came off the bench to score 18 points vs. ASU on Jan. 15. In the game, he hit a career-best 5 three-pointers. He followed that game up with 21 points vs. Arizona on Jan. 17. 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 16 of 20 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 seven games this season, they led most of the way against Seton Hall (13-9), Missouri (21-4) and Oregon St. (10-12) and fell by a point at then No. 6 Oklahoma (23-1), by four to then No. 10/7 UCLA (19-4) and by five at Washington (17-6), before losing by 16 at No. 15/12 UCLA. The combined record of the teams USC lost to is 122-40 (through Feb. 9).
DRIVEN BY DEFENSE -- USC has held 48 teams to 60 points or less in Tim Floyd's first 122 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 122 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 78 of the last 92 games.
TROJANS BORED WITH 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 22 games this season. USC has enjoyed a 5.6 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. However in the last five games, USC has been outrebounded three times and tied in another for an overall rebound deficit of 161-170.