USC Hosts Oregon On Thursday At Galen Center
March 4, 2009
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- The USC Trojans (16-12, 7-9) will face the Oregon Ducks (8-20, 2-14) at the Galen Center on March 5 at 7:30 p.m. USC is 13-2 at home this season, but has lost six of its last seven games overall.
BREAKING DOWN THE DUCKS -- Oregon is coming off consecutive wins over Stanford (68-60) and Oregon State (79-69), after having lost its first 14 conference games. Oregon is led in scoring by junior guard Tajuan Porter who is averaging 15.3 points per game. USC defeated Oregon 83-62 in Eugene, Ore. on Jan. 2. The Trojans lead in the all-time series with the Ducks, 61-42.
TROJANS FALL AGAIN AT STANFORD -- USC appeared well on its way to snapping a six-game losing streak at Stanford with an 11-point lead and 14 minutes to go, but the Trojans went cold, the Cardinal got hot and USC was handed a 75-63 loss on Feb. 28 in Palo Alto, Calif. USC hit a miserable 42.9 percent from the free throw line (9-for-21) which kept the Cardinal within striking distance, then five three-pointers made by Stanford over the next six and a half minutes and the Cardinals had captured the lead for good, finishing the game on a 40-17 run.
OREGON STATE ON DECK -- The Trojans will next play vs. Oregon State (13-14, 7-9) on March 7 in a 5 p.m. game at the Galen Center. Oregon State will play at UCLA on March 5 before traveling crosstown to take on USC. Sophomore guard Calvin Haynes leads Oregon State in scoring with a 15.5 average. The Beavers defeated USC 62-58 in overtime in Corvallis, Ore. on Jan. 4. It was OSU's lone conference win in its first six Pac-10 games, but it has won six of the last 10. USC leads in the all-time series 65-55, including winning five straight and 12 of the last 13 in Los Angeles.
FACING THE BEST -- Through games of March 3, USC's opponents have a combined 491-316 record (.608), five of USC's opponents are a combined 48-95 (.336), while the other 23 are 443-221 (.667). Twenty-one of USC's 28 games have been against teams that are .500 or better and 22 of those game were against teams that have won 15 or more. USC's schedule is ranked the 10th toughest by Sagarin.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS -- USC has played 11 games decided by 5 points or less (5-6). The Trojans have been within 5 points at some point with under 4 minutes to play in all but two of its 12 losses this season. In 6 of the Trojans' 12 losses, they were within 3 points with under a minute to play. Six of the Trojans last eight losses have come to teams that have won 21 or more games and eight of the 12 teams to beat USC have won 21 or more.
FOR SOMETHING FREE, TROJANS PAY DEARLY -- USC made just 25 of 49 free throws (51.0 percent) on the trip to the Bay Area. The Trojans made 16 of 28 (57.1 percent) in the OT loss at California, then 9 of 21 (42.9 percent) in the loss at Stanford. In the two games, USC took three more free throws than the opposition, but made 16 points less (USC: 25-for-49, Opp.: 41-for-46). USC is 13-4 this season when it has a better FT percentage that the opponent and 14-5 in games when taking more free throws.
DESPITE MISSING PIECES, FLOYD PUTS PUZZLE TOGETHER - USC is 7-9 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 seven games with a strained right rotator cuff and forward Nikola Vucevic missed two games with a strained lower back, before returning on Feb. 19.
TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF -- USC committed just eight turnovers at California on Feb. 26. It was the eighth time in the last 16 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 12.4 in the last 16 games (198 turnovers). USC began the season 8-0 when committing less turnovers than the opponent, but the losses at Cal and Stanford dropped the Trojans to 8-2 on the season when having less turnovers.
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. USC is 7-3 in the games he plays and is 1-6 since he has been out with a strained right rotator cuff. 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.
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.
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 14.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in USC's first 28 games, including 13 double-doubles giving him 29 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 25 of 28 games and has 8 rebounds or more in 19 of 28 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 1,207 points, 19th all time in scoring by a Trojan. Ron Holmes (1981-85) is 18th on USC's all-time scoring list with 1,211 points and Purvis Miller (1978-81) is 17th with 1,247 career points.
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, two at California on Feb. 26 and four at Stanford on Feb. 28 to give him a conference-leading 77 this season.
DEMAR IS D'MAN -- Freshman DeMar DeRozan has averaged 13.8 points (263) and 6.0 rebounds (114) in his last 19 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 T-8th all-time in scoring by a USC freshman with 351 points, 5th in scoring average (12.5), 6th in FT attempts (105), 9th in rebounds (153), 9th in FG% (.505) and T-8th in rebound average (5.5).
HE CAN SURE HACKETT -- Junior point guard Daniel Hackett is 3rd in the Pac-10 with 4.8 assists per game and is 45th in total assists with 133. He currently has 330 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 39 steals this season and needs one steal to reach 100 in his career. Hackett scored 26 points at Cal on Feb. 26 to tie his career high in points.
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 44 three-pointers this season and 95 in his career to tie Nick Young for 16th place on USC's all-time three-point baskets made list. Rodney Chatman is 15th with 105 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 21 of 26 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).
BREAKING DOWN THE LOSSES -- Although USC has lost 12 games this season, they have fallen to some quality teams and 8 of the 12 games were decided by 9 points or less. USC has lost to Seton Hall (15-13), No. 15 Missouri (24-5), Oregon St. (13-14), No. 4 Oklahoma (26-3), No. 20 UCLA twice (22-7), No. 16 Washington twice (23-7), No. 38 Arizona (18-11), No. 21 Arizona State (21-7), No. 34 California (21-8) and Stanford (16-11). Through games of March 3, the combined record of the teams USC lost to is 244-100 (.709).
DRIVEN BY DEFENSE -- USC has held 50 teams to 60 points or less in Tim Floyd's first 128 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 128 games under Floyd, 13 times this season. USC was outshot from the field in just five of 33 games last season and only 6 times this season (Mizz, OSU, ASU, Uof A-2 & UW). USC has had a better shooting percentage that its opponent in 81 of the last 98 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 21 of 28 games this season. USC has enjoyed a 4.9 rebound edge per game, good for 40th in the country. USC was outrebounded 40-30 by Washington on Feb. 21, its largest rebound deficit in a game this the season.