USC To Host Oregon State In Regular Season Finale
March 6, 2009
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- The USC Trojans (17-12, 8-9) will face the Oregon State Beavers (13-15, 7-10) at the Galen Center on March 7 at 5 p.m. in the final regular season game. USC is 14-2 at home this season and has won its last 12 games on Senior Night.
BREAKING DOWN THE BEAVERS -- Oregon St. is coming off a 79-54 loss at UCLA on Thursday. Calvin Haynes leads Oregon St. in scoring with a 14.9 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 11. USC leads in the all-time series 65-55, including winning five straight and 12 of the last 13 in Los Angeles.
TROJANS DEFEAT DUCKS TO HALT SKID -- USC responded to an Oregon run by outscoring the Ducks 16-4 over the final 3:50 to come away with an 80-66 win at the Galen Center on March 5. Oregon had cut USC's 13-point second-half lead to two points before DeMar DeRozan's jumper in the lane keyed USC's decisive run. DeRozan led USC with 19 points, followed by Taj Gibson with 18 and Daniel Hackett with 17 points. USC shot 58.3 percent, while holding the Ducks to 37.3 percent, the 14th team this season that the Trojans held to under 40 percent shooting from the field.
WHO'S THE LEADER OF THE PAC? -- The Pac-10 Tournament is up next, running March 11-14 at the Staples Center. The winner of the conference tournament get the Pac-10's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. USC lost in the semifinals in 2008 and in the finals in 2007. Pairings and seedings will be determined today.
BATTLE TESTED -- Through games of March 5, USC's opponents have a combined 507-345 record (.595), six of USC's opponents are a combined 57-117 (.328), while the other 23 are 450-228 (.664). Twenty-one of USC's 29 games have been vs. teams that are .500 or better and 22 of those were against teams that have won 15 or more. USC's schedule is ranked the 10th toughest by Sagarin. USC had played 14 consecutive games against teams at least 3 games over .500 before the Oregon game on March 5.
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.
ANOTHER MAGIC JOHNSON? -- No, there is only one Earvin 'Magic' Johnson, but Marcus Johnson has had quite a magical impact with USC. After sitting out the first semester due to NCAA transfer rules, the Trojans went 7-3 with him in the lineup before he suffered a right rotator cuff injury. While out of the lineup, USC went 1-6. He returned on Thursday and USC defeated Oregon to make the Trojans' record 8-3 in games Johnson plays.
DESPITE MISSING PIECES, FLOYD PUTS PUZZLE TOGETHER - USC is 8-9 in conference play despite having the whole team available for four 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 seven games with a strained right rotator cuff and forward Nikola Vucevic missed two games with a strained lower back.
TROJANS TAKE THE FREE WAY TO VICTORY -- USC made 22 of 28 free throw attempts (78.6 percent) in the victory vs. Oregon on March 5. USC improved to 14-4 when it has a better free throw percentage than the opposition and to 15-5 in games when taking more free throws than its opponent. In the two losses last weekend in the Bay Area, the Trojans hit just 25 of 49 free throws (51.0 percent). 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 scored 16 points less (USC: 25-for-49, Opp.: 41-for-46).
TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF -- USC committed just eight turnovers at California on Feb. 26. It was the eighth time in the last 17 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 12.3 in the last 17 games (209 turnovers). USC is 9-2 this season when committing less turnovers than its opponent.
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 14.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in USC's first 29 games, including 13 double-doubles giving him 29 in his career. Gibson made a run at becoming 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 26 of 29 games and has 8 rebounds or more in 19 of 29 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 1,225 points, 18th all time in scoring by a Trojan. Purvis Miller (1978-81) is 17th with 1,247 career points. Gibson also has 850 career rebounds, second all-time by a Trojan.
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 has bounced back with 14 blocks in the last four games to give him a conference-leading 81 this season. He ranks sixth nationally in blocks per game (2.8) and is 3 blocks away from tying his school single-season record of 84 set last season.
DEMAR IS D'MAN -- Freshman DeMar DeRozan has averaged 14.1 points (282) and 5.8 rebounds (116) in his last 20 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 7th all-time in scoring by a USC freshman with 370 points, 5th in scoring average (12.8), 5th in FT attempts (111), 8th in rebounds (155), 9th in FG% (.514) and T-9th in rebound average (5.3).
HE CAN SURE HACKETT -- Junior point guard Daniel Hackett is 3rd in the Pac-10 with 4.8 assists per game and is 3rd in total assists with 139. He currently has 336 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 41 steals this season and 101 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 22 of 27 games overall.
ENJOYING THE HOME COOKING -- USC is 14-2 (.875) 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 home winning percentage was during the 1991-92 season when they were 14-1 (.933).
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 (15-14), No. 15 Missouri (25-5), Oregon St. (13-15), No. 4 Oklahoma (26-4), No. 20 UCLA twice (23-7), No. 16 Washington twice (23-7), No. 38 Arizona (18-12), No. 21 Arizona State (21-8), No. 34 California (22-8) and Stanford (17-11). Through games of March 5, the combined record of the teams USC lost to is 249-105 (.703).