No. 3 Seed USC Takes On No. 2 Seed Washington State in Pac-10 Semifinals
March 9, 2007
LOS ANGELES -- The USC men's basketball team (22-10, 11-7) will face Washington State (25-6, 13-5) on March 9 at 8:50 p.m. at Staples Center in the semifinals of the 2007 Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament. USC's 22 victories this season are the most since also going 22-10 in 2002. The last time the Trojans won more games in a season was in 2001, when they went 24-6.
TROJANS AT THE PAC-10 TOURNAMENT -- USC is 7-8 all-time in Pac-10 Tournament games. Last night's win by USC snapped a three-game losing streak at the Pac-10 Tournament and was USC's first here since 2003. USC reached the finals in 2002 (Arizona) and 2003 (Oregon), but lost both times.
SCOUTING WASHINGTON STATE -- Washington State defeated Washington 74-64 in the quarterfinals last night. USC lost both games to Washington State this season, falling 58-55 in Los Angeles on Dec. 30 when Kyle Weaver's runner with four seconds left gave WSU the lead and then in the regular season finale at Washington State, 88-86 in double-overtime. In that game, which determined the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds for the Pac-10 Tournament, Aron Baynes led the Cougars with a career-high 25 points, making all 10 shots he took, a USC opponent record. Derrick Low leads the Cougars with a 13.5 points per game average.
USC vs. WASHINGTON STATE IN THE PAC-10 TOURNEY -- The Trojans have only faced Washington State one other time in the Pac-10 Tournament, an 85-68 victory in the first round in 1990.
TROJANS BATTLE BACK FOR OVERTIME WIN VS. STANFORD -- USC rallied from a 11-point halftime deficit to force overtime and never trailed in the extra session in an 83-79 win vs. Stanford. Nick Young led USC with 26 points, including the game-tying basket with 10 seconds left to send the game to overtime. Lodrick Stewart's jumper 45 seconds into overtime gave USC the lead for good. Taj Gibson had his ninth double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Gabe Pruitt added 17 points and matched a career-high with eight assists.
TAKING A DEFENSIVE STAND -- USC has held 17 of 32 opponents this season to under 40 percent shooting and 23 of 32 to a 42 percent or less shooting percentage. Only California (51.9 percent on Jan. 27), Arizona (50 percent on Feb. 15) and Washington (52.0 percent on March 1) have hit at least 50 percent of their shots against USC's defense. USC has held the opposition under 40 percent shooting in 27 of the 62 games Tim Floyd has been the head coach (43.5 percent), whereas in the previous two seasons, they accomplished the feat 8 times in 57 games (14 percent). USC has held the opposition to a 38.8 shooting percentage, ninth best in the country (through games of March 8).
RISING UP THROUGH THE RANKS -- With the win at then No. 19 Arizona on Feb. 15, USC picked up its sixth win against Top 25 teams and is 6-4 vs. ranked opponents this season. The six wins USC has against Top 25 teams are the most in a season since also beating six ranked teams during the 2002 season.
GIBSON GETS MORE FRESHMAN HONORS -- USC freshman forward Taj Gibson was selected on March 8 as honorable mention All-Freshman by Collegehoops.net.
IN TIM WE TRUST -- The arrival of head coach Tim Floyd brought great excitement to the USC campus and with good reason. Floyd has an impressive track record in the collegiate ranks along with his NBA experience. He brings 18 years of head coaching experience at the collegiate and NBA levels and owns a 282-153 record in his 14 seasons as a college head coach at Idaho (1987-88), New Orleans (1989-94), Iowa State (1995-98) and USC (2006-07). His record at USC is 39-23. Eight of his first 13 seasons, Floyd has taken his team into the postseason (5 NCAA, 3 NIT). Floyd has helped the development of his student-athletes at each stop, as 10 players in his 13 years have made it to the NBA, including three players that did not even play high school ball.
FLOYD MOST WINS BY A TROJAN COACH IN FIRST TWO SEASONS -- USC head coach Tim Floyd has a 39-23 record in his first 62 games at the helm for the Trojans. His victory total surpasses Leo Calland (1928-29) for the most by a USC head coach in his first two seasons.
1st yr. 2nd yr. Total Pct. Tim Floyd (2006-07) 17-13 22-10 39-23 .629 Leo Calland (1928-29) 22-4 16-6 38-10 .792 Forrest Twogood (1951-52) 21-6 16-14 37-20 .649
MAKING THEIR SHOTS COUNT -- USC is shooting .481 from the field this season (827-for-1719). The last time USC finished a season with a higher shooting percentage was in 1985 when it had a .487 shooting percentage and the 2007 team's percentage currently is tied for sixth best in school history. USC has outshot the opponent in terms of percentage in 27 of the 32 games (not vs. South Carolina, at Stanford, at ASU, at UW and last night vs. Stanford). USC has also shot 50 percent or better in a game 14 times, while allowing its opponent to shoot 50 percent or better just three times.
HOLDING THEM DOWN WITH 'D' -- USC has held 11 opponents to under 60 points this season. It is the most games in a season that the Trojans have held the opposition to 59 points or less since accomplishing the feat 13 times in 1987.
ANOTHER FRESHMAN SCHOOL RECORD FOR GIBSON -- Freshman Taj Gibson had eight rebounds on Feb. 22 to give him 234 this season, a new USC freshman single-season record. The previous record for most rebounds in a season by a Trojan freshman was 231 by Cliff Robinson in 1978. Gibson has registered eight or more rebounds in 22 of 32 games and now has 268 this season.
HOW GOOD HAS GIBSON BEEN? -- On March 8 vs. Stanford Taj Gibson picked up his ninth double-double of the season (tied for 2nd most in the Pac-10) with 13 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. He has cracked the all-time USC freshman season top 10s in rebounds (1st with 268), free throws attempted (2nd with 135), free throws made (3rd with 80), points (4th with 378), blocks (1st with 58) and field goal percentage (3rd with .569). Also, his 8.4 rebounds per game average is second best all-time as a freshman at USC to Cliff Robinson's 9.6 in 1978.
STEWART SHOOTS DOWN SCHOOL RECORD -- Senior Lodrick Stewart made four three-pointers on Feb. 24 vs. Cal to give him 220 in his career, breaking the USC career three-point baskets made record of 218 which had been held by Brandon Granville (1999-02). Stewart now has made 68 of 153 three-point shots this season for a .444 percentage. The 68 makes are tied for the seventh most in a season by a Trojan (he made 70 in 2005, the sixth most).
THE SECOND CENTURY OF HOOPS AT USC -- The Trojans are beginning their second century of intercollegiate basketball and have a 1,414-1,014 record. The Trojans have had a .500 or better record in 71 of the first 100 seasons.
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME -- USC won its last six home games and finished 15-3 the first season at the Galen Center. The last time USC won more home games in a season was in 1961 when they went 16-3 at home. USC's loss to Washington State on Dec. 30 snapped a nine-game home winning streak, following the season-opening overtime loss to South Carolina on Nov. 16. The last time USC won more consecutive home games in a season was during the 2000-01 campaign when it won the first 10. USC's home losses this season were an overtime loss (South Carolina) and two games in which the Trojans led with five seconds left in the game (Washington State and UCLA).
PAC-10 PRESEASON RANKINGS -- The Trojans were picked to finish in sixth place in the Pac-10 conference this season, according to a poll of media members who cover Pac-10 men's basketball. UCLA was picked to win the conference with 335 votes, followed by Arizona (280), Washington (236), Oregon (193), California (177), USC (160), Stanford (127), Oregon State (75), Arizona State (69) and Washington State (54). Last season, USC was a preseason No. 8 pick and they finished sixth.
PRUITT BACK ON TRACK -- All-Pac-10 guard Gabe Pruitt played in his first game on Dec. 22 following a semester of academic ineligibility, but was a combined 0-6 from the field with two points in his first two games. He has started the 19 games since then and shined. He scored 18 points, grabbed three rebounds, dished out a game-high six assists and had a steal in his first start on Dec. 28 vs. Washington. In his 19 starts, he has averaged 13.5 points (256 total), 4.4 assists (84 total), 1.8 steals (34 total) and 2.7 rebounds (51 total). In USC's last six games, Pruitt has combined to score 96 points, grab 19 rebounds, dish out 34 assists and make 14 steals.
RISING UP THE BLOCK EXCHANGE -- USC had eight blocks in the 71-68 win vs. Oregon on Feb. 3, including three staight in a 28 second stretch after the Trojans had taken a 63-60 lead. USC had a season-high nine blocks in the game on Jan. 4 at Oregon. USC's total of 130 blocks this season are the fourth most in school history. The 130 total blocks is third among Pac-10 teams. Taj Gibson leads the Trojans and is second among Pac-10 players with 58 blocks, senior Abdoulaye N'diaye has 17 and sophomore RouSean Cromwell has 16. Gibson had seven blocks on Jan. 4 at Oregon, tying him for the fourth best single-game total by a Trojan.
GIBSON MADE SUDDEN IMPACT -- Trojan freshman forward Taj Gibson had 18 rebounds on Nov. 24 vs. Long Beach State, the most by a Trojan since Jeff McMillan also had 18 rebounds on Feb. 25, 2004 vs. UCLA and the third most by a Pac-10 player this season. The last Trojan with more rebounds in a game was David Bluthenthal who tied the school record with 28 on Jan. 20, 2000 vs. Arizona State. Bluthenthal tied Cliff Robinson's school and freshman record of 28 rebounds set on Jan. 20, 1978 vs. Portland State. Gibson had eight double-doubles (points-rebounds) in his first 16 games, and picked up his ninth on March 8 vs. Stanford. He scored in double figures in his first 5 games, the first USC freshman to score in double digits in his first 5 collegiate games since Tom Lewis during the 1985-86 season (first nine games). He has reached double figures in scoring in 23 of 32 games and has scored at least eight points in 28 of 32 games.
THAT'S A LOD OF POINTS -- Senior Lodrick Stewart reached the 1,000 points scored mark on Nov. 24 against Long Beach when he made a layup 2 minutes into the second half. He finished that night with 16 points. He currently has 1,406 career points, ranking him 12th all-time on USC's scoring list and fourth among active career scorers in the Pac-10. He poured in a career-high 28 on Jan. 6 at OSU.
STEWART SETS SCHOOL RECORD -- Lodrick Stewart made all six three-point shots he attempted on Jan. 6 at Oregon State, the most three-pointers made in a single game by a Trojan with out a miss. The previous best by a USC player had been five by Brad Winslow (1987) and Errick Craven (2002). The six shots made from beyond the arc tied his career best set on Dec. 2 this season vs. LMU. He is 68-for-153 from beyond the arc on the season (.444) and has a career three-point shooting percentage of .400 (223-for-558).
THE BATTLE OF THE BOARDS -- USC outrebounded Stanford 44-41 on March 8 after having been outrebounded by the Cardinal by an average of 14 in the first two games. USC has outrebounded 14 of its 32 opponents. Last season USC outrebounded the opposition in just eight of 30 games. The Trojans had 47 rebounds in the opener (most since getting 50 in the 2005-06 opener) and 40 in their second game, the first time USC had recorded back-to-back games of 40 or more rebounds since Dec. 3 and Dec. 6, 2003. The 58 rebounds USC collected on Nov. 24 vs. LBSU were its most in a game since also grabbing 58 boards on Feb. 27, 1997 vs. Oregon.
SOMETIMES TWO CAN BE BETTER THAN THREE -- USC averaged 19 three-pointers per game last season and took a conference-high 20.4 per Pac-10 game in 2005-06. USC is averaging 13.8 three-point shots per game this season, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Last season when USC took 15 or less shots from behind the arc, they were 8-1 and are 16-5 this season. USC is 6-5 this season when taking more than 15 three-point shots in a game, including making a season-high 10 and taking a season-high 22 vs. Cal.
DEFENDING THE THREE -- Despite Washington's 55.6 percent shooting from three-point range on March 1, USC has held its opponents to 31.0 percent shooting from three-point range this season (210-for-677), best among Pac-10 teams. Conversely, USC leads all Pac-10 teams with a .396 percentage from three-point range, .409 in Pac-10 games.
FORTIFIED BY FRESHMEN -- The Trojan freshman are playing a big role for USC and have combined to start 57 times. First-year player Taj Gibson is the only Trojan to start all 32 games this season. Gibson leads the team in rebounding (8.4) and is fourth in scoring (11.8). The Trojans have six freshmen on the squad (one redshirting) and they have combined to score 34.8 percent of USC's points and have played 41.1 percent of the team's minutes.
N0THING FOUL ABOUT THIS SHOOTING -- The Trojans hit 33 of 38 foul shots (86.8 percent) on Dec. 9 vs. George Washington. It was the team's best percentage in a game since making 87.0 percent vs. Washington on March 6, 2003 and the most made free throws in a game since also making 33 on Jan. 20, 2000 vs. Arizona State. USC has made 70.8 percent of its free throws this season. USC has shot better than 70 percent from the free throw line just one season (2001) in the last 20 years.
HOW RARE WAS THAT COMEBACK? -- USC's comeback from a 20-point deficit in the second half (38-18) to win 74-65 vs. George Washington at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. on Dec. 9 was the biggest since also staging a 20-point second-half comeback vs. BYU (down 23-43) on Dec. 23, 2000 to win 70-67. It was just the third time in the last 15 seasons that USC came back from a 20-point deficit to win, the other being Dec. 7, 1996 at UNC Charlotte.
YOUNG SHOOTING UP THE CHARTS -- Junior swingman Nick Young's tip-in one minute into the game on Dec. 19 vs. Longwood was his 1,000th career point, the 31st Trojan to reach the 1,000 career points scored plateau. Young joined teammate Lodrick Stewart who eclipsed the 1,000 career points total on Nov. 24 vs. Long Beach State. He now has scored 1,409 career points to rank 11th on USC's all-time list, 14 points behind John Block. He has reached double figures in points in his last 20 games and in 29 of 32 games this season. In the last 14 games, Young has averaged 19.6 points (275 total).
TURNING AROUND THE TURNOVERS -- USC has had as many or more assists as turnovers in 11 of the last 20 games after accomplishing that feat once in the first 12 games. In the last 20 games, USC has 259 assists and 234 turnovers, but the total for the season is 416 assists and 482 turnovers. USC has averaged 11.7 turnovers per game in the last 20, after averaging 19.8 in the first 12 games.
BREAKING DOWN THE SCHEDULE -- USC's current NCAA RPI rating (March 5) is 54. USC had nine games against Top 28 RPI teams and 21 games against teams in the top 101 in RPI. To put that in perspective, the No. 1 NCAA RPI team UCLA has 22 games against the top 101. Nineteen of USC's 32 games have been against teams that won 17 or more games. USC has played four conference leaders, including Pac-10 leader UCLA twice. Twelve of USC's games this season were against teams currently receiving AP Top 25 votes.
TROY'S TERRIFIC TRIO -- The Trojan trio of Nick Young, Lodrick Stewart and Gabe Pruitt combined for 60 points in the loss at Washington State on March 3. It was the fifth time in their careers that the trio combined for over 60 points in a game. They also combined to score 69 at Arizona on Feb. 15, 2007, 64 vs. Arizona on Jan. 18, 2007, 63 vs. Arizona on Feb. 2, 2006 and 60 at Oregon on Jan. 28, 2006. The trio had each reached double figures in scoring in seven consecutive games from Jan. 27-Feb. 22. They have combined to score 543 points and average 49.4 points in the last 11 games. Also, all three players have reached the 1,000 career points scored mark during this season.
RARIFIED AIR FOR USC -- The Trojans have 22 wins, just the fourth time they have reached the 20-win plateau in the last 28 seasons (1992-24, 2001-24, 2002-22 and 2007-20). USC has achieved 22 wins in a season eight times in school history. The USC record for wins in a season is 24 done three times (24-2 in 1971, 24-5 in 1974 and 24-6 in 1992).
TROJANS FALL SHORT OF RARE FEAT -- It took until the final two regular season games, but USC lost consecutive games for the first time this season. The double-overtime defeat at Washington State kept USC from going through regular season play without back-to-back losses for the first time since the 1974 season. USC had been one of 16 NCAA teams not to lose consecutive games this season.
SHARP-SHOOTING STEWART -- Senior guard Lodrick Stewart is second among conference players with a .444 shooting percentage from three-point range, tops in Pac-10 play (.483). He has been especially hot of late, hitting at a .494 clip (39-for-79) over USC's last 17 games.
YOUNG GETS HONORS AGAIN -- For the second consecutive season, Nick Young was a first-team selection to the All-Dictrict 15 team by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, first-team selection to the All-District 9 team by the U.S. Basketball Writer's Association and All-Pac-10 First Team, as voted on by Pac-10 head coaches.
ALL-AROUND EFFORT FROM YOUNG -- Junior Nick Young finished the regular season second among Pac-10 players in scoring (17.5), fifth in field goal percentage (.535), fourth in three-point percentage (.438) and fourth in total minutes played (1,025).
GIBSON NAMED TO PAC-10 ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM -- USC freshman forward Taj Gibson was one of six players selected to the 2007 Pac-10 All-Freshman team. Gibson's solid first season sees his named littered up and down the conference leader charts. Gibson is tied for fourth among Pac-10 players in rebounds with an 8.3 average (1st among freshmen), tops in field goal percentage at .579 (1st among freshmen), second in blocks with 56 (2nd among freshmen) and tied for second in defensive rebounds with 179 (1st among freshmen). His 11.8 scoring average is fourth on the Trojans and sixth among conference freshmen.
PRUITT JOINS 1,000 POINT CLUB -- Junior guard Gabe Pruitt scored 13 points on March 1 at Washington to give him 1,000 points exactly in his career, joining teammates senior Lodrick Stewart and junior Nick Young in the 1,000 career points scored club. Pruitt became the 32nd Trojan in history and third this season to reach 1,000 career points when he scored a layup with 4:12 left in the game to cut it to six points. In the season finale at Washington State, Pruitt scored 19, had six assists and five steals.
GIBSON AND FLOYD GET ACCOLADES -- Taj Gibson was selected as the Player of the Week (Jan. 1-7) by ESPN.com and TheSportingNews.com. He scored 18 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked seven shots in an 84-82 win at previously unbeaten Oregon, then scored 20 points in the 91-46 win at Oregon State. Head coach Tim Floyd was named Coach of the Week on Dick Vitale's website.
YOUNG NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK -- Junior swingman Nick Young was named U.S. Bank Pac-10 Player of the Week for Jan. 15-21, as he led USC to a sweep of the Arizona schools. Young averaged 24 points and 5.5 rebounds in the two games, including scoring 30 points in the 80-73 win over then No. 11 Arizona on Jan. 18.
GIBSON SET THE SCHOOL FRESHMAN BLOCKS RECORD - Lost among the many blocks at Maples Pavilion on Jan. 25 was that USC freshman Taj Gibson swatted three more shots to bring his season total at the time to 44 blocks, the most ever by a USC freshman. The previous school record for blocks by a freshman was 43 by Ken Johnson in 1982. He has upped his record to 58.
TROJANS NO STRANGER TO TIGHT CONTESTS -- USC is 7-4 in games decided by five points or less following the 83-79 overtime win vs. Stanford on March 9. The Trojans are also 5-2 in games decided by 6-10 points and have won 12 games decided by 10 points or less (12-6), tied for most among Pac-10 teams. Oregon is 12-4 in the close games with two of the losses coming at the hands of USC (2 points and 3 points).
A DEFENSIVE PERSPECTIVE -- Everyone knows by now that USC is holding opponents to a .388 field goal percentage, seventh best in the country. What you might not know is that the last time USC finished the season with a better field goal defense percentage was in 1960 when that held opponents to a .354 shooting percentage. The 2007 team's .388 percentage is sixth best in USC history.
N'DIAYE SWATS WAY TO TOP 10 -- With two blocks on Feb. 24 vs. California, Abdoulaye N'diaye now has 64 career blocks as a Trojan, 10th best in school history.