USC Plays At California On Thursday
Feb. 24, 2009
BERKELEY, CALIF. -- The USC Trojans (16-10, 7-7) will face the California Golden Bears (20-7, 9-5) at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, Calif. on Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m. USC has lost four of five games after winning five of six games.
BREAKING DOWN THE BEARS -- The Bears are tied for third in the conference following a 65-54 loss at Oregon State, while USC is in sixth place in the Pac-10. The Trojans defeated Cal 73-62 on Jan. 31 at the Galen Center. Cal is led in scoring by junior guard Jerome Randle who is third in the Pac-10 in scoring with an 17.8 average. USC trails in the all-time series, 117-125. USC is 3-9 in the last 12 games at California. The Bears are 15-1 at home this season.
TROJANS GO COLD AGAINST HUSKIES -- USC scored just three points in the final 7:28 and was outscored 14-1 in the final 5:52 to suffer its second home loss of the season, a 60-51 setback vs. Washington at the Galen Center on Feb. 21. USC started strong, building a 22-11 lead early in the first half, but Washington answered and took a 31-28 lead into the break as the Trojans hit just 3 of their final 16 shots of the half. The Huskies built the lead to seven points before USC used an 11-0 run with five different players scoring to take the lead back at 39-35. The Huskies tied the game at 50 at the 4:59 mark and all USC could muster the rest of the way was a free throw. Both teams struggled from the field as USC hit 38 percent of its shots and UW 37.9 percent. Dwight Lewis (4-for-15) and Daniel Hackett led USC with 11 points. Quincy Pondexter had a season-high 22 points (10-for-13) to lead the Huskies. USC had been 5-0 this season in Saturday games.
STANFORD ON DECK -- The Trojans will next play at Stanford (15-10, 4-10) on Feb. 28 in a 5 p.m. game. USC defeated Stanford 70-69 on Jan. 29 when Lawrence Hill's shot rimmed out at the buzzer. USC leads the all-time series with the Cardinal 118-116, but has lost the last six played at Stanford. The Cardinal have three players averaging double figures in scoring: Anthony Goods (15.7), Hill (13.6) and Landry Fields (12.5). Stanford has lost seven of its last nine games, but owns an 11-3 record at home this season.
BLOCK AROUND THE CLOCK -- Taj Gibson was held without a block for the first time this season on Feb. 19 vs. Washington State. In fact, it snapped a streak of 46 consecutive games with at least one block (dating back to the 2007-08 season). That was the longest active streak by any men's college player (courtesy of STATS, LLC). Gibson bounced back with four blocks vs. Washington on Feb. 21 and has 71 this season.
TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF -- USC committed just nine turnovers vs. Washington State on Feb. 19. It was the seventh time in the last 14 games in single-digits in turnovers, after registering 10 or more turnovers in each of the first 12 games. In the first 12 games USC averaged 16.8 turnovers and has averaged 12.7 in the last 14 games (178 turnovers). USC is 8-0 this season when winning the turnover battle.
SLOW STARTS -- USC has trailed at the half in 10 of its last 12 games. USC has averaged 27.7 points in the first half of those 12 games and 34.8 points in the second half.
DESPITE MISSING PIECES, FLOYD PUTS PUZZLE TOGETHER - USC is 7-7 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 five games with a strained right rotator cuff and forward Nikola Vucevic missed two games with a strained lower back, before returning on Feb. 19.
MAGICAL MARKS -- USC has an 8-0 record when it has less turnovers than the opposition and is 9-0 when holding the opponent to under 60 points. The Trojans are 11-2 when holding opponents under 40-percent from the field. USC is 7-2 when taking 10 or less 3-point shots.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS -- USC played 10 games decided by 5 points or less (5-5). The Trojans have been within 5 points at some point with under 4 minutes to play in all but one of its 10 losses this season. In 5 of the Trojans' 10 losses, they were within 3 points with under a minute to play.
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, with another impressive dunk vs. Cal on Jan. 31. 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.
VUCEVIC A WSU SPECIALIST? -- The freshman forward made his first start on Jan. 24 at WSU and notched then career highs in points with 8 and rebounds with 5. He did not start again until Feb. 19 vs. WSU and had 8 points again and a new career high with 7 rebounds. In the two games against the Cougars he has 16 points in 56 minutes and in his other 12 games, has 24 points in 114 minutes. He came off the bench at UCLA on Feb. 4 and matched a career-high with 8 points and had 6 rebounds and 4 steals. He missed the two games in Arizona with a lower back strain.
TAJ HAS BEEN A TOWER OF POWER -- Taj Gibson was diagnosed on Jan. 26 with an pneumonia, 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 13.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in USC's first 26 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 23 of 26 games and has 8 rebounds or more in 17 of 26 games. Gibson has been named to the Midseason Top 30 for the Wooden Award. Gibson also has been rising up the USC career scoring charts and currently has 1,167 points, 21st all time in scoring by a Trojan. Allen Young (1963-65) is 20th on USC's all-time scoring list with 1,168 points and Maurice Williams (1979-82) is 19th with 1,204 points.
DEMAR IS D'MAN -- Freshman DeMar DeRozan scored 36 points & had 18 rebounds on USC's last road trip (UofA &ASU) and has averaged 14.1 points (239) and 6.2 rebounds (105) in his last 17 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). DeRozan currently ranks 10th all-time in scoring by a USC freshman with 327 points, 5th in scoring average (12.6), 8th in FT attempts (98), 9th in rebounds (144), T-9th in FG% (.500) and T-8th in rebound average (5.5).
HE CAN SURE HACKETT -- Junior point guard Daniel Hackett is tied for 4th in the Pac-10 with 4.7 assists per game and is 5th in total assists with 123. He currently has 320 in his career, 6th all-time by a Trojan. Gus Williams (1973-75) is 5th on USC's all-time assist list with 362. 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). He also has 36 steals this season and needs four steals to reach 100 in his career.
THE DWIGHT STUFF -- Dwight Lewis miss two games (Jan. 22 and 24) with a sprained left ankle, but bounced quickly with 20 points at UCLA on Feb. 4 and 21 at Arizona on Feb. 12. At Arizona, Lewis hit a career-high 6 three-pointers, including his first 5 attempts in the 2nd half. He then led USC in scoring with 17 vs. WSU on Feb. 19. He has made a team-leading 41 three-pointers this season and 92 in his career to tie Errick Craven for 17th place on USC's all-time three-point baskets made list. Nick Young is 16th with 95 career 3-point baskets. 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 20 of 24 games overall.
ENJOYING THE HOME COOKING -- USC is 13-2 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 had a better record in its first 15 games at home was during the 1991-92 season (14-1).
FACING THE BEST -- Through games of Feb. 23, USC's opponents have a combined 426-274 record, five of USC's opponents are a combined 45-90, while the other 21 are 381-184. Twenty-one of USC's 26 games have been against teams that are .500 or better and 20 of those game were against teams that have won 14 or more. With tonight's game at Cal, 12 of USC's first 27 games have been against teams ranked in the top 42 in the RPI rankings. USC's schedule is ranked the 16th toughest.
BREAKING DOWN THE LOSSES -- Although USC has lost 10 games this season, they have fallen to some quality teams and 7 of the 9 games were decided by 9 points or less. USC has lost to Seton Hall (14-12), No. 11 Missouri (23-4), Oregon St. (13-13), No. 3 Oklahoma (25-3), No. 22 UCLA twice (20-7), No. 21 Washington twice (20-7), No. 29 Arizona (18-9) and No. 14 Arizona State (21-5). The combined record of the teams USC lost to is 174-74 (through Feb. 23).
DRIVEN BY DEFENSE -- USC has held 50 teams to 60 points or less in Tim Floyd's first 126 games as USC's head coach, including 11 this season. The Trojans held 20 of their opponents last season to 39.2 percent shooting or less, and have held 65 teams under 40 percent shooting in the first 126 games under Floyd, 13 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 80 of the last 96 games.
WINNING 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 20 of 26 games this season. USC has enjoyed a 5.3 rebound edge per game, good for 28th in the country. USC was outrebounded 40-30 by Washington on Feb. 21, its largest rebound deficit in a game this the season.