USC Travels Across Town To Face UCLA On Saturday
Jan. 13, 2010
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- The USC Trojans (10-6, 2-2) will face the UCLA Bruins (7-9, 2-2) at Pauley Pavilion in Westwood, Calif. on Jan. 16 at 4:30 p.m. The game will be televised on Prime Ticket with Bill Macdonald and Don MacLean calling all the action. It will also air live on USC radio flagship station ESPN Radio 710 AM with Pete Arbogast and Jim Hefner calling the action. USC has lost two consecutive games after winning its previous eight contests.
SCOUTING THE BRUINS -- UCLA is coming off a 70-59 loss at Stanford on Jan. 9, despite hitting 54.8 percent of its shots. UCLA is led in scoring by guards Malcolm Lee (13.9 ppg) and Michael Roll (13.5 ppg). UCLA leads the all-time series with USC, 128-101. The Bruins took two of three vs. the Trojans last season, with USC winning in the Pac-10 semifinals 65-55. USC is 7-9 in the last 16 games vs. UCLA and is 3-4 in the last seven at Pauley Pavilion.
USC SHOT DOWN BY CAL AT THE LINE -- California scored 13 of its final 17 points from the free throw line over the last 7:42 to turn a 50-all tie into a 67-59 win over USC at Haas Pavilion on Jan. 9. Cal hit its last 12 free throws and 21 of 24 in the game, compared to USC's five total attempts from the free throw stripe in the game. USC led 50-43 with 9:45 left in the game before the Bears went on a 16-1 run to put USC away. Dwight Lewis led the Trojans with 20 points.
COUGARS ON DECK -- Washington State (12-4, 2-2) will host California on Jan. 14 and Stanford on Jan. 16 before heading to Los Angeles. The Cougars are led by sophomore Klay Thompson who is averaging a conference-leading 23.0 points per game. They also have been boosted by freshman point guard Reggie Moore who is averaging 13.0 points, second among first-year players in the Pac-10. Washington State leads the conference in field goal percentage, hitting at a .480 clip. USC won both matchups vs. WSU last season and owns a 66-41 lead in the all-time series, but are only 4-9 in the last 13 meetings between the two schools.
TROJANS ON DEFENSE -- USC enters the game having allowed 884 points in its first 16 games (55.2 ppg), its fewest through 16 games since allowing 818 points in the first 16 games of the 1950-51 season. USC is second in the nation in points allowed per game at 55.2, behind only ASU (54.4). California scored 67 points vs. the Trojans on Jan. 9, snapping USC's nine-game streak of holding its opponent to 56 points or less (longest streak since 12 in the 1947-48 season). USC has held 11 opponents to 56 points or less this season.
SEEKING FIRST ROAD WIN -- USC is 0-4 on the road this season with losses at Texas, Georgia Tech, Stanford and Cal. USC was 2-8 in road games last season and dating back to the 2008-09 season have lost nine consecutive games on its opponents' home court, including seven straight Pac-10 road losses.
TEAM TROJAN -- USC's starters are all averaging between 9.4 and 13.2 points per game. In the eight games since point guard Mike Gerrity has been eligible, USC is 6-2 and all five starters have been the team's leading scorer or second leading scorer in a game at least twice.
USC ANNOUNCES SELF-IMPOSED SANCTIONS -- On Sunday, Jan. 3, USC announced self-imposed sanctions on its men's basketball program which includes a postseason ban this season and vacating all wins during the 2007-08 season. The complete release detailing all of the sanctions is on Page 4 of the notes.
VUCEVIC'S SOPHOMORE SURGE -- Sophomore forward Nikola Vucevic already has five double-doubles in his first 16 games this season, tied for second in the Pac-10 entering this week's action. 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. He is averaging 11.8 points and 9.4 rebounds, after averaging 2.6 points and 2.7 rebounds as a freshman last season. His 9.4 rebounds per game leads all Pac-10 players.
JOHNSON'S SECOND SENIOR SEASON -- USC redshirt senior G/F 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 22-9 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. Johnson scored his USC high of 19 points and had a career-high nine rebounds vs. UNLV on Dec. 25. Johnson leads USC with 22 steals and is third in rebounds with 68 and blocks with 11.
SIMMONS' SUMMER SHOOTING SPREE -- Junior guard Marcus Simmons developed into USC's defensive stopper late last season and spent the summer working on his offense, including shooting until he made 1,000 shots a day...that is until his wrist started hurting and he had to back off some. It seems to have worked, though, as he is shooting 40.9 percent from the field and 75.0 percent from the free throw line this season compared to 37.9 percent (FG) and 50 percent (FT) last season.
SMITH STEPPING UP -- Junior guard Donte Smith has averaged 4.7 points through USC's first 16 games and is second on USC with 13 three-pointers made (13-for-37, 35.1 percent), one more than he made all last season. In the game vs. Nebraska on Nov. 29, Smith was 4-for-4 from the field, including hitting two three-pointers. Smith came off the bench to scored six big points down the stretch in USC's 55-51 win vs. Western Michigan on Dec. 22. He started at point guard the first eight games.
DEVELOPING A HOME COURT ADVANTAGE AT GALEN -- USC has a 47-12 record all-time at the Galen Center, including winning 26 of the last 30 home games.
FACING THE BEST -- USC's 2009-10 schedule features 12 games against teams that were in the NCAA Tournament last season and another 10 games against teams which were in either the NIT or CBI tournaments, meaning 22 of 30 games against teams that played in the 2009 postseason and 23 of 30 against teams that posted a .500 or better record. USC's opponents have a combined 158-92 record this season (62.3 winning percentage) through games of Jan. 12.
TROJANS IN THE RANKINGS -- USC ranked tied for No. 35 in the preseason USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll and was unranked in the AP and CBSSportsline polls. They currently are unranked.
CUNNINGHAM HAS SURGERY/INJURY UPDATES -- Kasey Cunningham suffered a torn ACL and medial meniscus tear in his left knee in the game on Nov. 21 and will miss the remainder of the season. He had surgery to repair the knee on Jan. 7 at USC University Hospital. Cunningham has played in a total of 15 games (5 starts) since arriving at USC for the 2006-07 season. Percy Miller has missed the last eight games with a chronic AC joint sprain of the left shoulder.
GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT -- 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 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. 14-20. 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 14 games, he has averaged 10.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. He has seven or more rebounds in 11 of 14 games.
I LIKE MIKE -- What is not to like for Trojan fans as the senior has played eight games (6-2), leading USC to a 77-55 upset of No. 9 Tennessee on Dec. 19 and then to the championship of the Diamond Head Classic while earning Tournament MVP honors. Gerrity scored 15 of his team-high 17 points after halftime to help USC to a 55-51 comeback victory over Western Michigan on Dec. 22. He followed that up with a team-high 17 points including hitting a key three-pointer late in the game in the semifinals win vs. Saint Mary's on Dec. 23. In the finals vs. UNLV on Dec. 25, he had 13 points and three assists without a turnover against UNLV's tough press. He was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week for the week of Dec. 21-27. Gerrity has averaged 10.3 points, 3.1 assists and 2.9 rebounds in his first eight games. His 10 assists vs. Tennessee were the most by a Trojan since Daniel Hackett had 13 on Dec. 4, 2008 at Oklahoma. He has 25 assists and 18 turnovers, the only Trojan with a positive assist to turnover ratio.
WASHINGTON WORTH THE WAIT -- Sophomore forward Leonard Washington played in his first game of the season on Dec. 23 after missing the first semester with academic issues and had an immediate impact. He scored 10 points, had six rebounds, two assists, two blocks and an assist vs. Saint Mary's on Dec. 23. He then scored nine points and had four rebounds and a block vs. UNLV on Dec. 25. In his first six games back, Washington has averaged 6.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and has five blocks and eight steals. Washington was fifth in scoring for USC as a freshman with a 6.1 average in 30 games, 13 starts. He scored in double figures six times last season with a high of 17 vs. North Dakota State on Dec. 20, 2008.
BIG TIME LEWIS RISING UP SCORING LISTS -- Senior Dwight Lewis has scored 1,258 career points, 17th all-time at USC and 49 points behind Taj Gibson (2007-09) who is 16th with 1,307. Lewis entered the season fifth among returning Pac-10 players in career points. He also ranks tied for 12th on USC's all-time three-point baskets list with 123, one behind Dwayne Hackett (1992-93) who has 124 to rank 11th 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, 21 vs. Tennesse on Dec. 19 and 22 at Stanford on Jan. 6 and has had 13 career 20-point games.
DRIVEN BY DEFENSE -- USC has held 64 teams to 60 points or less in the last five seasons (151 games), including 11 this season. The Trojans held 17 of their opponents last season to 39.2 percent shooting or less, and have held 77 teams under 40 percent shooting in the last 151 games. USC was outshot from the field just nine times last season and six times so far this season (Nebraska, Texas, GT, WMU, Stanford & Cal). USC has had a better shooting percentage that its opponent in 95 of the last 121 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. Stanford and Cal combined to shoot 46.3 percent last week vs. USC (44-for-95), but the previous eight Trojan opponents combined to make 30.6 percent (129-for-421) from the field.
THE BATTLE OF BOARDS -- USC is 8-7-1 in the rebound battle this season and has a rebound advantage of 508-430 in the last 14 games. In the last seven games, however, USC is minus-10 in rebounds, 224-214.
THE DWIGHT STUFF FROM LONG RANGE -- Senior Dwight Lewis who ranks 12th all-time at USC with 123 three-point baskets has hit 6 of his last 13 three-point attempts. He was 4-for-8 from long distance at Stanford and 2-for-5 at Cal. Those efforts snapped a streak of five consecutive games in which he had not scored from three-point range (0-for-15), matching his longest career drought done Nov. 24-Dec. 9, 2006 during his freshman season. He has remained a constant scorer for USC, though, ranking first on the team with a 13.2 points per game average. Lewis had a career-best six 3-pointers on Feb. 12, 2009 at Arizona.
USC'S BLOCK EXCHANGE IS RISING -- USC had six blocks on Jan. 2 vs. Arizona State, the fifth game this season with six or more blocks and they have registered 57 swats in the last 10 games (5.7 per game). USC had a school-record 13 blocks on Dec. 11 vs. Idaho State and had 12 blocks vs. Sacramento State on Dec. 8.
FONTAN ENROLLS AT USC -- Guard Jio Fontan, a transfer from Fordham, enrolled at USC on Jan. 11 and will be available to compete for the men's basketball team following the first semester of the 2010-11 season. 'We are really excited to have Jio here with us,' said USC head coach Kevin O'Neill. 'We think he will be a great asset for us on and off the court. I'm really looking forward to working with him everyday.' Fontan played in five games for Fordham this season, averaging 15.0 points and 4.2 assists. As a freshman in 2008-09, Fontan was named the Atlantic-10 Rookie of the Year as he averaged 15.3 points, 4.7 assists and 2.2 rebounds per game. Fontan graduated from St. Anthony's HS in Jersey City, N.J. and helped lead them to a perfect 32-0 record in 2007-08 and the number one national ranking in both the USA Today Super 25 and the ESPN High Elite 25 polls. Fontan was ranked as the No. 13 point guard recruit in the nation by Scout.com for the 2008 class. Fontan was also a four-year honor roll student at St. Anthony's HS.
KORRI'S STORY -- USC guard Korri Ennis has been determined eligible for competition by the NCAA Clearinghouse and was in uniform for the first time on Jan. 6 at Stanford. Ennis is a 6-0, 180-pound redshirt sophomore guard. He played collegiately at UC Riverside as a freshman in 2007 (1.6 ppg/1.3 rpg), before transferring to Florida A&M where he did not compete. He transfered to USC last year and played on the scout team which practiced against the USC women's team. He earned a spot on USC's men's basketball team at the open tryout held on Oct. 17. He will now be wearing No. 23, not No. 34 which he was originally given.