USC To Meet Boston College in NCAA First Round Friday
March 17, 2009
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- The No. 10 seed USC Trojans (21-12, 9-9/T-5th in Pac-10) will face the No. 7 seed Boston College Eagles (22-11, 9-7/T-5th in ACC) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn. on March 20 at 4:20 p.m. PT. USC has won 20 or more games and reached the NCAA Tournament the last three seasons, both school records. The game is being broadcast on CBS with Gus Johnson calling the play-by-play and Len Elmore providing color commentary.
USC IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT -- USC is 11-16 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, losing last season as a No. 6 seed in the first round to No. 11 seed Kansas State 80-67 in Omaha, Neb. In 2007, USC advanced to the 'Sweet 16' as a No. 5 seed by defeating Arkansas and Texas, before falling to North Carolina. This is USC's 15th appearnace in the NCAA Tournament (1940, 1954, 1960, 1961, 1979, 1982, 1985, 1991, 1992, 1997, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2008 and 2009). The farthest the Trojans have advanced in the NCAA Tournament is to the semifinals in 1940 and 1954.
BREAKING DOWN THE EAGLES -- The Eagles are 22-11 and are coming off a 66-65 loss to Duke in the ACC Tournament on March 13. The Eagles are led in scoring by senior guard Tyrese Rice who averages 17.1 points and 5.4 assists per game. USC and Boston College have met only one other time and it was in the second round of the 2001 NCAA Tournament, won 74-71 by USC. USC was a No. 6 seed that season and BC a No. 3 seed and ranked No. 7 in the country.
COMMON GROUND -- The Trojans and Eagles have both faced Georgia Tech and San Francisco this season. USC went 2-0 vs. those teams, while BC went 3-0.
ON DECK -- The winner of the USC-Boston College game will play on Sunday, March 22 in Minneapolis against the winner of the No. 2 seed Michigan State-No. 15 seed Robert Morris game for a spot in the Midwest Regional semifinals.
TROJANS AGAINST THE NCAA TOURNAMENT FIELD -- USC has faced nine teams and played 17 games against teams that are in the 2009 NCAA Tournament field, meaning more than half of its 33 games were against teams in the tournament. USC owns an 8-9 record in those games: (Arizona 1-1, Arizona State 2-1, California 2-1, Chattanooga 1-0, Missouri 0-1, North Dakota State 1-0, Oklahoma 0-1, UCLA 1-2, Washington 0-2).
USC CLAIMS FIRST PAC-10 TOURNAMENT TITLE -- USC erased a 15-point halftime deficit to defeat No. 23 Arizona State 66-63 on March 14 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles to capture the school's first Pac-10 Tournament title. The Trojans had trailed since the first minute of the game until Daniel Hackett's free throw with 42 seconds left gave USC a 64-63 lead. Taj Gibson then took over, blocking a James Harden shot and making two free throws to give USC the 66-63 win. DeMar DeRozan scored 16 of his career-high 25 points in the second half to lead USC back. Hackett finished with 19 points and a team-leading six rebounds. Dwight Lewis added 13 points, including a clutch three-pointer with 1:04 left to bring the Trojans within one point. USC was the No. 6 seed and became the lowest seeded team to win the Pac-10 Conference Tournament.
DESPITE MISSING PIECES, FLOYD PUTS PUZZLE TOGETHER - USC was 9-9 in conference play despite having the whole team available for only 5 games. In those 5 games USC was undefeated (5-0) and has since improved to 8-0 with everyone available. Already without forwards Kasey Cunningham for most of the season and Alex Stepheson the entire season, USC was forced to play the first 4 conference games without forward Leonard Washington (high left ankle sprain), and then lost then-leading scorer guard Dwight Lewis (left ankle sprain) for the 2 games in Washington. Sixth-man Marcus Johnson missed 7 games with a strained right rotator cuff and forward Nikola Vucevic missed 2 games with a strained lower back.
TIME TO PUT IT IN NEUTRAL -- USC is 4-2 this season and 15-10 in Tim Floyd's 4 years in neutral site games.
THE MARK OF VICTORY -- USC is 12-0 when holding teams to under 60 points, 14-2 when holding teams to 40 percent shooting or less, 10-2 when committing less turnovers, 17-4 when having a better FT% and 19-5 when taking more FTs.
TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF -- USC committed a season-low five turnovers in the Pac-10 Finals vs. ASU. It was the ninth time in the last 21 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 21 games (261 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 14 games, Johnson has averaged 3.6 points and 2.1 rebounds in 13.5 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.
A HISTORY OF WINNING -- The Trojans have compiled a record of 1,458-1,040 in their 103 years of intercollegiate basketball competition. The Trojans have had a .500 or better record in 74 of the first 103 seasons.
TROJANS IN THE RANKINGS -- USC is currently ranked No. 27 in the AP Poll and No. 29 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll. USC began the season ranked No. 18 in the AP Poll & No. 21 in both the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll & CBSSportsline.com Poll.
PAC-10 BEFORE AND AFTER -- At the annual Pac-10 Media Day held on Oct. 30, USC was picked to finish third in the Pac-10 Conference in a vote by the league media. UCLA was picked first with 379 votes, followed by Arizona State (325), USC (292), Arizona (241), Washington (217), Washington State (188), Oregon (147), California (143), Stanford (115) and Oregon State (40). The actual final regular season standings were: Washington (14-4), UCLA (13-5), California (11-7), ASU (11-7), Arizona (9-9), USC (9-9), Washington State (8-10), Oregon St. (7-11), Stanford (6-12) and Oregon (2-16). USC won the Pac-10 Tournament over Arizona State for the automatic NCAA bid.
INTERNATIONAL FLAVOR -- USC's roster includes four players from outside of the country. Guards Daniel Hackett from Italy and Ryan Wetherell from Canada begin their third season with the Trojans, while forward Mamadou Diarra of Mali enters his second and forward Nikola Vucevic from Montenegro begins his first season at USC.
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.
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 33 games, including 15 double-doubles giving him 31 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 29 of 33 games and has 8 rebounds or more in 22 of 33 games. Gibson was named to the Midseason Top 30 for the Wooden Award. Gibson also has been rising up the USC career scoring charts and currently has 1,280 points, 16th all time in scoring by a Trojan. David Bluthenthal (1999-2002) is 15th with 1,313 career points. Gibson also has 890 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). At the time it was the longest active streak by any men's college player (courtesy of STATS, LLC). Gibson has bounced back with 25 blocks in the last eight games to give him a conference-leading 92 this season and he broke his school record of 84 set in 2008. Gibson ranks fifth nationally in blocks per game (2.8).
DEMAR IS D'MAN -- Freshman DeMar DeRozan has averaged 15.0 points (361) and 6.2 rebounds (148) in his last 24 games. He reached double figures in scoring 13-straight games before being held to 5 on Jan. 24 at WSU. He scored a then- 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), added his second at ASU on Feb. 15 (16 pts/10 reb), third March 12 vs. Cal (17 pts/11 reb) and fourth March 13 vs. UCLA (21 pts/13 reb). DeRozan set his new career best with 25 points in the championship game of the Pac-10 Tournament vs. ASU on March 14. DeRozan currently ranks 5th all-time in scoring by a USC freshman with 449 points, 5th in scoring average (13.6), 4th in FT attempts (136), 5th in FT made (87), 4th in rebounds (187), 8th in FG% (.525) and 8th in rebound average (5.7).
HE CAN SURE HACKETT -- Junior point guard Daniel Hackett entered NCAA Tournament play T-4th among Pac-10 players with 4.7 assists per game and is 3rd in total assists with 155. He currently has 352 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 44 steals this season and 104 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 51 three-pointers this season and 102 in his career 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 25 of 31 games overall. He was held scoreless vs. Oregon State in the regular season finale, his first game without scoring since his freshman season.
ANOTHER MAGIC JOHNSON? -- No, there is only one Earvin 'Magic' Johnson, but Marcus Johnson has had quite a magical impact on 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 March 5 and USC has gone 5-0 to push its record to 12-3 in games Johnson is available.
DRIVEN BY DEFENSE -- USC has held 52 teams to 60 points or less in Tim Floyd's first 133 games as USC's head coach, including 13 this season. The Trojans held 20 of their opponents last season to 39.2 percent shooting or less, and have held 68 teams under 40 percent shooting in the first 133 games under Floyd, 16 times this season. USC was outshot from the field just eight times this season (Mizz, OSU, ASU-2, Uof A-2, UW & Cal). USC has had a better shooting percentage that its opponent in 84 of the last 103 games.
WINNING THE BOARD GAMES -- USC outrebounded the opposition in its first 11 games before being beaten on the glass 34-32 by ORU on Dec. 29, but has had a rebounding edge in 26 of 33 games this season. USC has enjoyed a 5.5 rebound edge per game in this season, good for 28th in the country. USC was outrebounded 40-30 by UW on Feb. 21, its largest rebound deficit in a game this the season.
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. Through regular season games, the combined record of the teams USC lost to was 257-109 (.702). USC has lost to Seton Hall (16-14), Missouri (25-6), Oregon St. (13-16), Oklahoma (27-4), UCLA twice (24-7), Washington twice (24-7), Arizona (19-12), Arizona State (22-8), California (22-9) and Stanford (17-12).
BATTLE TESTED -- Through regular season games, USC's opponents had a combined 532-372 record (.588), eight of USC's opponents were a combined 84-152 (.356), while the other 22 were 448-220 (.671). Twenty-one of USC's 30 games were vs. teams that were .500 or better and 21 of those were against teams that have won 16 or more. USC's schedule was ranked the 14th toughest by Sagarin. Before the final weekend, USC played 14 consecutive games against teams two games over .500 or better.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS -- USC has played 13 games decided by 5 points or less (7-6). 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 22 or more games and eight of the 12 teams to beat USC have won 22 or more.
ENJOYING THE HOME COOKING -- USC was 15-2 (.882) 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).
SOME STATS FROM STATS, LLC -- According to Stats, LLC, USC's Taj Gibson enters NCAA Tournament play at the leading active player in the field with a 10.8 rebounds per game average (43 in 4 games). He also ranks 10th in scoring average at 15.3, second in blocks per game with 2.8 and tied for fourth in free throws made with 23.
TROJANS WIN SOME PAC-10 HARDWARE -- USC's Taj Gibson was named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and was named to the All-Conference second team. Daniel Hackett was also named to the Pac-10 All-Conference second team. DeMar DeRozan was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman team. All three players were named to the All-Pac-10 Tournament team, with DeRozan being named the tournament's MVP as he averaged 21.0 points and 9.0 rebounds in the three games. Taj Gibson averaged 13.7 points and 10.7 rebounds, while Hackett scored 14.0 points and 6.3 rebounds in the tournament.
STEPHESON WAIVER PETITION DENIED -- Talented forward Alex Stepheson had his transfer waiver petition denied by the NCAA on Nov. 19 and was not be eligible for competition this season. Stepheson had requested eligibility for USC this season after transferring from North Carolina this fall due to family health concerns.
GIBSON JOINS ELITE SWAT TEAM -- Taj Gibson has 245 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.
MISSING IN ACTION -- USC took just three 3-pointers (made 2) in the win vs. Washington State on Feb. 19. It was the fewest 3-point attempts by USC since also taking three at Arizona on Feb. 16, 1989. USC is 9-4 this season when taking 10 or less 3-point shots.
DWIGHT IS ALRIGHT -- Junior Dwight Lewis scored 13 points in the Pac-10 Championship win vs. Arizona State on March 14 to eclipse the 1,000 points scored mark, now standing at 1,008. He becomes the 34th player in USC history to score 1,000 or more points. Teammate Taj Gibson became the 33rd earlier this season.
COACH FLOYD IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT -- USC head basketball coach Tim Floyd has taken three different schools (New Orleans, Iowa State and USC) to the NCAA Tournament where he has compiled a 6-7 record. New Orleans was 0-2, Iowa State was 4-3 and USC is 2-2. This is his eighth NCAA Tournament appearance and fifth time taking a team to the Midwest Regional (New Orleans in 1993, Iowa State in 1996 and 1997 and USC in 2008 and 2009). His teams have a 3-4 record in the Midwest Regional. His 1997 Iowa State team advanced to the Sweet 16 out of the Midwest Regional.
Ryan Francis REMEMBERED -- This season would have been the senior season for point guard Ryan Francis, a Pac-10 honorable mention All-Freshman team member who was shot and killed while visiting his mother, Paulette, on May 14, 2006 in Baton Rouge, La. Francis' bright smile and big-hearted play has remained with the Trojans since, as he has an honorary locker with his jersey hanging in the Galen Center, his uniform No. 12 is painted on the floor near halfcourt and he was honored posthumously on Senior Night on March 7. His mother was there for the ceremony and was out in Los Angeles following the Trojans during their Pac-10 Championship run. USC Athletics and the Trojan Board of Directors established a Ryan Francis Endowed Scholarship which has met its goal of being fully endowed before he would have graduated.