USC Takes On WMU At Diamond Head Classic In Hawaii

Dec. 21, 2009

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HONOLULU, HAWAII -- The USC Trojans (5-4) will face the Western Michigan Broncos (4-4) on Dec. 22 at 2 p.m. (PT) in the inaugural Diamond Head Classic being held at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu, Hi. The game will be broadcast live on ESPNU with Jon Sciambi and Jay Williams calling the action. It will also be offered on a delayed basis on USCTrojans.com. The game will air live on USC radio flagship station ESPN Radio 710 AM with Rory Markas and Jim Hefner calling the action.

SCOUTING THE BRONCOS -- Western Michigan (4-4) is coming off a 72-64 home win vs. Kennesaw State on Dec. 19. The Broncos returned three starters from a team that went 10-21 a year ago. WMU is led in scoring by senior guard David Kool (21.5 ppg), sophomore forward Flenard Whitfield (12.3 ppg) and senior guard/forward Martelle McLemore (12.0 ppg). USC leads the all-time series with WMU 2-1, winning the last meeting 77-62 on Dec. 16, 2005.

USC KNOCKS OFF No. 9 TENNESSEE -- USC held the No. 9 Volunteers to 34.5 percent shooting and a season-low 55 points in a 77-55 victory at the Galen Center on Dec. 19. Tennessee entered the game as one of the highest-scoring offenses in the country averaging 84.1 points, but the Trojans held them to 20 points in the first half and 35 following the break. USC was spurred on by the return of point guard Mike Gerrity who had a double-double with 12 points and a career-high 10 assists. Alex Stepheson (19 points/15 rebounds) and Nikola Vucevic (15 points/10 rebounds) also posted double-doubles. Dwight Lewis led USC with 21 points.

ON DECK AT THE DIAMOND HEAD CLASSIC -- The winner of today's USC-WMU game will play the winner of Northeastern/St. Mary's on Dec. 23 at 2:00 p.m., while the losers of each game will square off on Dec. 23 at noon (PT). St. Mary's is 9-1 and defeated Pacific on Dec. 18 for its seventh-straight win. Northeastern is 2-5 and have been off since falling to Rhode Island on Dec. 10. The final games will be played on Dec. 25. The other teams in the eight-team field are UNLV, SMU, College of Charleston and host Hawaii. USC has played in five tournaments in Hawaii since the 1975-76 season and posted a 9-6 record, winning the Rainbow Classic in the 1975-76 season. USC last played in Hawaii in the 2004-05 season at the Rainbow Classic and fell to host Hawaii in the finals, 72-68. This trip is a homecoming for assistant coach Gib Arnold who played his high school basketball at Punahou High (same high school as President Barack Obama) where Arnold earned Hawaii's Gatorade Player of the Year honors.

GERRITY SHINES IN DEBUT -- Point guard Mike Gerrity played his first game as a Trojan and first since March 8, 2008 and helped lead USC to a 77-55 win vs. No. 9 Tennessee on Dec. 19. He registered a double-double with 12 points and a career-high 10 assists.

TROJANS SHOWING STINGY DEFENSE -- USC enters the game having allowed 520 points in its first nine games (57.8 ppg), its fewest through nine games since allowing 514 points in the first nine games of the 1959-60 season. USC has held its last three opponents to 55 points or less and in five of its nine games this season.

I'LL TAKE THAT... -- Sophomore Nikola Vucevic (10.7) and junior Alex Stepheson (10.6) are the top two rebounders in the Pac-10. Through games of Dec. 20, they rank tied for No. 18 and No. 22 respectively in the country in rebounding and USC is the only team with two players ranking in the top 50.

MORE DOUBLE-DOUBLES THAN DOUBLE-D -- Sophomore forward Nikola Vucevic already has five double-doubles in his first nine games this season to lead all Pac-10 players and would you believe it, more than DeMar DeRozan had last year in his phenomenal freshman season. Vucevic had 15 points and 10 rebounds vs. Tennessee on Dec. 19 for his fifth double-double. He had 14 points and posted a career-high 15 rebounds on Dec. 8 vs. Sac. State, a career-high 19 points and 11 rebounds vs. LMU on Nov. 21, 15 points and 12 rebounds vs. Coppin St. on Nov. 27 and 18 points and 14 rebounds at Texas on Dec. 3. Through nine games he is averaging 13.8 points and 10.7 rebounds, after averaging 2.6 points and 2.7 rebounds as a freshman last season. His 10.7 rebounds per game leads all Pac-10 players.

JOHNSON'S SECOND-CHANCE SEASON -- USC redshirt senior guard/forward Marcus Johnson, who played the second semester last season after transferring to USC from UConn, was granted another year of eligibilty by the NCAA following the season, but penalized two games for playing in an exhibition game in the 2007-08 season. USC is 17-7 in games he has been available to play in the two seasons. In his first game this season on Nov. 27 vs. CSU, Johnson had 11 points, three rebounds and a steal. He had his Trojan highs of 12 points and 4 steals at Georgia Tech on Dec. 5. He then matched career highs with 8 rebounds and 3 blocks, while scoring 7 points vs. Sac. State on Dec. 8. Johnson leads USC with 16 steals, despite only playing in seven games.

STEPHESON'S DOUBLE-DOUBLE MACHINE ROLLING -- Alex Stepheson showed signs he is shaking off the rust of more than a year away from game action, as he scored a career-high 22 points at Georgia Tech on Dec. 5 and then had 10 points, 10 rebounds and 7 blocks vs. Sacramento State on Dec. 8 for his second career double-double. Stepheson then had his third career double-double vs. Idaho State on Dec. 11 with 16 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. In the last game vs. Tennessee on Dec. 19, Stepheson had 19 points and a new career high with 15 rebounds to earn Pac-10 Player of the Week honors for the week of Dec. 13-19. He played in his first game as a Trojan on Nov. 27 vs. Coppin State and registered his first career double-double on Nov. 29 vs. Nebraska with 13 points and a then career-best 12 rebounds. In his first seven games, he has averaged 13.4 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game.

TROJANS CALL ON THE SWAT TEAM -- USC had a school-record 13 blocked shots in the game vs. Idaho State on Dec. 11. That came on the heels of tying the old school record with 12 blocks vs. Sacramento State on Dec. 8. USC has 36 blocks in the last five games, after having a total of nine in the first four games.

THE DWIGHT STUFF -- Senior Dwight Lewis has scored 1,167 career points, 22nd all-time at USC and one point behind Allen Young (1963-65) who is in 21st place with 1,168. Lewis entered the season fifth among returning Pac-10 players in career points. He also ranks 14th on USC's all-time three-point baskets list with 117 which ranks eighth among returning conference players and two behind Adam Spanich (1998-99) who ranks 13th on USC's all-time list. Lewis led USC with a 14.4 scoring average in 2008-09, as well in three-point baskets (55) and free throw shooting (74.8 percent). He reached double figures in scoring in 27 of his 33 games last season, scoring a career-high 26 twice (vs. San Francisco on Dec. 1 and at Oregon on Jan. 2). He scored 22 points vs. UCR on Nov. 17 and 21 vs. Tennesse on Dec. 19 and has had 11 career 20-point games.

WHAT TURNOVER PROBLEM? -- USC has 156 turnovers through 9 games (17.3 per game), just four less than it had through 9 games last season (152). That team averaged 16.8 turnovers in the first 12 games, then averaged 12.4 over the final 23 contests en route to a 22-13 season.

DRIVEN BY DEFENSE -- USC has held 58 teams to 60 points or less in the last five seasons (144 games), including five this season. The Trojans held 17 of their opponents last season to 39.2 percent shooting or less, and have held 73 teams under 40 percent shooting in the last 144 games. USC was outshot from the field just nine times last season and three times so far this season (Nebraska, Texas & GT). USC has had a better shooting percentage that its opponent in 91 of the last 114 games. USC held Sac. State to 23.0 percent shooting on Dec. 8, the lowest percentage by a Trojan opponent since Loyola Marymount shot 22.4 percent from the field on Dec. 9, 1998. The last three Trojan opponents have combined to make 30.7 percent (54-for-176) from the field.

WINNING THE BOARD GAMES -- USC is 7-1-1 in the rebound battle this season and has outrebounded each of its last seven opponents (Coppin State, Nebraska, Texas, Georgia Tech, Sac. State, Idaho State & Tennessee) for a total rebound advantage of 294-206.

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