USC To Host Washington State Thursday At Galen Center

Feb. 17, 2009

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LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- The USC Trojans (15-9, 6-6) will face the Washington State Cougars (13-12, 5-8) at the Galen Center on Feb. 19 at 7:30 p.m. USC has lost a season-high three straight games, all on the road. USC has won four straight at home and 12 of 13 at the Galen Center this season. Last season after 24 games USC was also 15-9, 6-6.

BREAKING DOWN THE COUGARS -- Washington State is 2-6 in its last eight games, losing its last game 54-52 vs. Oregon State. The Cougars are 3-3 on the road in Pac-10 play and 4-4 in road games overall. USC defeated WSU 46-44 in Pullman, Wash. on Jan. 24, rallying from eight points down in the second half. USC leads the all-time series with Washington State 65-41, however has only won three of the last 12 meetings with the Cougars. Freshman Klay Thompson leads WSU in scoring with a 13.3 average.

TROJANS' RALLY FALLS SHORT AT ASU -- USC erased a nine-point halftime deficit to forge a one-point lead with just under 13 minutes left, but ASU answered with five-straight points and USC went on to fall 65-53 at Tempe, Ariz. on Feb. 15. ASU's lead swelled to 12 before the Trojans mounted another comeback. With the deficit at six points with 48 seconds left, Daniel Hackett appreared to make a basket with a chance to go to the line and make it a three-point game, but one of the officials called it a charge. USC argued that the other official called it a basket to no avail and following two technicals on Tim Floyd, ASU was able to close out the game at the foul line. DeMar DeRozan led USC with 16 points and 10 rebounds, his second double-double of the season.

WASHINGTON ON DECK -- The Trojans' will host conference leader Washington (19-6, 10-3) on Saturday, Feb. 21 at 4 p.m. Washington will play at UCLA on Thursday before facing the Trojans. The Huskies are led in scoring by Isaiah Thomas (16.5), Justin Dentmon (15.8) and Jon Brockman (14.9). USC lost 78-73 at Washington on Jan. 22 as the Huskies outshot USC 40-17 from the free throw line. USC leads in the all-time series 65-64.

FACING THE BEST -- Through games of Feb. 17, USC's opponents have a combined 372-234 record, six of USC's opponents are a combined 52-98, while the other 18 are 320-136. Eighteen of USC's 24 opponents have a .500 or better record and 16 of those teams have won 14 or more games. Ten of USC's first 24 games have been against teams ranked in the top 43 in the RPI rankings. USC's schedule is ranked the 17th toughest.

THE HOME STRETCH -- USC will play 4 of its final 6 regular season games at home. USC and UCLA are the only two conference teams to have played only 5 home games.

IT'S 5 O'CLOCK SOMEWHERE -- The start time for USC's game at Stanford on Saturday, Feb. 28 has been set for 5 p.m. It is not being televised in Los Angeles.

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS -- Not only has USC played 10 games decided by 5 points or less (5-5), but the Trojans have been within 5 points at some point with under 4 minutes to play in all but one of its 9 losses this season. In 5 of the Trojans' 9 losses, they were within 3 points with under a minute to play.

DESPITE MISSING PIECES, FLOYD PUTS PUZZLE TOGETHER - USC is 6-6 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 last three games with a strained right rotator cuff and forward Nikola Vucevic has missed the last two games with a strained lower back.

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 12-3 in games they lead with five minutes left.

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 -- The freshman forward made his first start on Jan. 24 at WSU 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 had a career-high 6 rebounds and 4 steals. He missed the last two games with a lower back strain.

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...began limited practice the week of Jan. 26. Marcus Johnson has a right rotator cuff strain and is day-to-day. Nikola Vucevic has a lower back strain.

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 13.9 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in USC's first 24 games, including 11 double-doubles giving him 27 in his career. Gibson is attempting to become the first Trojan to average a double-double since 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 21 of 24 games and has 8 rebounds or more in 16 of 24 games. Gibson has been named to the Midseason Top 30 for the Wooden Award.

GIBSON JOINS ELITE SWAT TEAM -- Taj Gibson has 220 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 1,141 points, 22nd all time in scoring by a Trojan. Errick Craven (2002-05) is 21st on USC's scoring list with 1,159 career points.

DEROZAN DELIVERING -- Freshman DeMar DeRozan scored 36 points & had 18 rebounds on the trip to Arizona and has averaged 14.9 points (223) and 6.3 rebounds (94) in his last 15 games. He reached double figures in scoring 13-straight games before being held to 5 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 (14 pts/12 reb) and added his second at ASU on Feb. 15 (16 pts/10 reb). In the last four games, he has averaged 17.5 points and 7.5 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 tied for 3rd in the Pac-10 with 4.8 assists per game and is 6th in total assists with 115. He currently has 312 in his career, 8th all-time by a Trojan. Dan Anderson (1972-74) is 7th with 313 career assists and Robert Pack (1990-91) is 6th with 319.

THE DWIGHT STUFF -- Dwight Lewis led USC with 20 points at UCLA on Feb. 4 and 21 at Arizona on Feb. 12, a sign he is returning to form after missing 2 games with a sprained left ankle. At Arizona, Lewis hit a career-high 6 three-pointers, including his first 5 attempts in the 2nd half. His previous best had been 5 three-pointers made, set in the game vs. ASU on Jan. 15. He has made a team-leading 38 three-pointers this season and 89 in his career to move into 18th place on USC's all-time three-pointers made list. Errick Craven is 17th with 92 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 18 of 22 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 9 games this season, they have fallen to some quality teams and 6 of the 9 games were decided by 7 points or less. USC has lost to Seton Hall (14-11), No. 11 Missouri (22-4), Oregon St. (11-13), No. 2 Oklahoma (25-1), No. 20 UCLA twice (19-6), No. 22 Washington (19-6), No. 29 Arizona (18-8) and No. 14 Arizona State (20-5). The combined record of the teams USC lost to is 167-60 (through Feb. 17).

DRIVEN BY DEFENSE -- USC has held 48 teams to 60 points or less in Tim Floyd's first 124 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 124 games under Floyd, 11 times this season. USC was outshot from the field in just five of 33 games last season and only five times this season (Mizz, OSU, ASU & Uof A-2). USC has had a better shooting percentage that its opponent in 78 of the last 94 games.

TROJANS PLAYING THE BOARD GAMES -- 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 19 of 24 games this season. USC has enjoyed a 5.7 rebound edge per game, good for 27th 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.

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