No. 23 USC To Face Arkansas In NCAA First Round
March 12, 2007
LOS ANGELES -- The No. 5 seed USC men's basketball team (23-11, 11-7-Pac-10) will face No. 12 seed Arkansas (21-13, 7-9-SEC) on March 16 at the Spokane Arena in Spokane, Wash. in the first round of the 2007 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. The game is scheduled to start 30 minutes after the Texas-New Mexico State game which begins at 4:25 p.m. USC's 23 victories this season are the most since going 24-10 in 2001. USC has won a school-record 24 games three other times, 24-2 in 1971, 24-5 in 1974 and 24-6 in 1992. Tonight's game will be televised by CBS with Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel calling the action.
TROJANS IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT -- USC is 9-14 all-time in the NCAA tournament and is making its first appearance since the 2002 season. That season USC entered as a No. 4 seed and lost 93-89 in overtime to No. 13 seed UNC-Wilmington in Sacramento, Calif. In 2001, USC advanced to the Elite Eight as a No. 6 seed, defeating Oklahoma State, Boston College and Kentucky, before falling to eventual champion Duke in the regional final. This is USC's 13th appearance in the NCAA Tournament (1940, 1954, 1960, 1961, 1979, 1982, 1985, 1991, 1992, 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2007). The farthest the Trojans have gone in the NCAA Tournament is to the semifinals in 1940 and 1954.
SCOUTING ARKANSAS -- Arkansas reached the SEC finals where it lost to 2006 National Champion Florida by a score of 77-56 on March 11. The Razorbacks have four players scoring in double digits, led by SEC Freshman of the Year Patrick Beverley who is averaging 13.8 points. Arkansas had won five consecutive games before falling in the SEC finals to Florida. USC and Arkansas have met twice before with the Trojan winning both games, 70-67 in 1967 and 88-74 in 1986.
ON DECK -- If USC were to advance to the second round, it would take on the winner of the game between No. 4 seed Texas and No. 13 seed New Mexico State on Sunday, March 18 at the Spokane Arena. Texas (24-9) is led by freshman phenom Kevin Durant who is averaging 25.6 points this season. Texas lost in overtime to Kansas in the Big 12 finals on March 11, 88-84. New Mexico State (25-8) won the WAC Tournament 72-70 vs. Utah State on March 10. The Aggies are led in scoring by junior Justin Hawkins, who is averaging 15.7 points.
TROJANS FALL IN PAC-10 FINALS -- Three times USC has reached the Pac-10 Tournament finals and three times they have come up short, this time falling 81-57 to Oregon on March 10 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif. USC combined one of its worst shooting games of the season (37.5 percent) with its worst defensive effort of the season (53.6 percent) in losing to the Ducks, a team USC had defeated twice in the regular season, the only Pac-10 team to beat Oregon two times. USC trailed 37-24 at halftime and then Oregon got hot, hitting 10 second-half three-pointers. Oregon's Bryce Taylor was 7-for-7 from three-point range and made all 11 shots he took, a new USC opponent record. Lodrick Stewart led USC with 12 points.
USC AGAINST THE NCAA FIELD -- USC has faced eight different teams that are playing in the 2007 NCAA Tournament and owns a 9-7 record against them: Arizona (2-0), George Washington (1-0), Kansas (0-1), Long Beach State (1-0), Oregon (2-1), Stanford (2-1), Washington State (1-2) and UCLA (0-2).
RISING UP THROUGH THE RANKS -- USC lost to then-No. 16 Oregon in the Pac-10 Tournament finals on March 10, but is 7-4 vs. Top 25 teams this season.
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 283-154 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 40-24. Nine of his first 14 seasons, Floyd has taken his team into the postseason (6 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 has a 4-5 record as a coach in the NCAA Tournament.
FLOYD MOST WINS BY A TROJAN COACH IN FIRST TWO SEASONS -- USC head coach Tim Floyd has a 40-24 record in his first 64 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 23-11 40-24 .625 Leo Calland (1928-29) 22-4 16-6 38-10 .792 Forrest Twogood (1951-52) 21-6 16-14 37-20 .649
TAKING A DEFENSIVE STAND -- USC has held 18 of 34 opponents this season to under 40 percent shooting and 24 of 34 to a 42 percent or less shooting percentage. Only California (51.9 percent on Jan. 27), Arizona (50 percent on Feb. 15), Washington (52.0 percent on March 1) and Oregon (53.6 percent on March 10) have hit at least 50 percent of their shots against USC's defense. USC has held the opposition under 40 percent shooting in 28 of the 64 games Tim Floyd has been the head coach (43.8 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 39.1 shooting percentage.
MAKING THEIR SHOTS COUNT -- USC is shooting .477 from the field this season (868-for-1818). The last time USC finished a season with as high of a shooting percentage was in 1991 when it also had a .477 shooting percentage which is the eighth best in school history. USC has outshot the opponent in terms of percentage in 28 of the 34 games (not vs. South Carolina, at Stanford, at ASU, at UW, vs. Stanford at Pac-10s and vs. Oregon at the Pac-10s). USC has also shot 50 percent or better in a game 14 times, while allowing its opponent to shoot 50 percent or better just four 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 24 of 34 games and now has 287 this season.
HOW GOOD HAS GIBSON BEEN? -- On March 8 vs. Stanford Taj Gibson picked up his ninth double-double of the season (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 287), free throws attempted (2nd with 146), free throws made (3rd with 89), points (4th with 401), blocks (1st with 61) and field goal percentage (4th with .559). 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 71 of 160 three-point shots this season for a .444 percentage. The 71 makes ranks sixth all-time for a single season at USC.
THE SECOND CENTURY OF HOOPS AT USC -- The Trojans are beginning their second century of intercollegiate basketball and have a 1,414-1,016 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 -- USC was 11-7 in the Pac-10 this season, tied for third, but beat both teams they tied with (Oregon and Arizona) twice in the regular season. 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).
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 21 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 21 starts, he has averaged 13.7 points (288 total), 4.3 assists (91 total), 1.8 steals (37 total) and 2.7 rebounds (56 total). In USC's last eight games, Pruitt has combined to score 128 points, grab 24 rebounds, dish out 41 assists and make 17 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 134 blocks this season are the third most in school history. Taj Gibson leads the Trojans and is second among Pac-10 players with 61 blocks, senior Abdoulaye N'diaye has 17 and sophomore RouSean Cromwell has 17. 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 24 of 34 games and has scored at least eight points in 30 of 34 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 1,433 career points, ranking him ninth all-time on USC's scoring list. 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 71-for-160 from beyond the arc on the season (.444) and has a career three-point shooting percentage of .400 (226-for-565).
THE BATTLE OF THE BOARDS -- USC was outrebounded 43-26 by Oregon on March 10, but has outrebounded 14 of its 34 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 14.0 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 7-6 this season when taking more than 15 three-point shots in a game. USC tied a season high with 10 three-point baskets on March 9 vs. WSU.
DEFENDING THE THREE -- Despite Oregon hitting 14 three-pointers and shooting 48.3 percent from beyond the arc on March 10, USC has held its opponents to 31.9 percent shooting from three-point range this season (235-for-736). Conversely, USC leads all Pac-10 teams with a .403 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 60 times. First-year player Taj Gibson is the only Trojan to start all 34 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 34.6 percent of USC's points and have played 40.9 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 70.7 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 1,429 career points to rank 11th on USC's all-time list, one point behind Brandon Granville. He has reached double figures in points in his last 22 games and in 31 of 34 games this season.
TURNING AROUND THE TURNOVERS -- USC has had as many or more assists as turnovers in 13 of the last 22 games after accomplishing that feat once in the first 12 games. In the last 22 games, USC has 279 assists and 252 turnovers, but the total for the season is 436 assists and 500 turnovers. USC has averaged 11.5 turnovers per game in the last 22, after averaging 19.8 in the first 12 games.
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 622 points and average 47.8 points in the last 13 games. Also, all three players have reached the 1,000 career points scored mark during this season.
RARIFIED AIR FOR USC -- The Trojans have 23 wins, just the fourth time they have reached the 20-win plateau in the last 28 seasons (1992-24, 2001-24, 2002-22 and 2007-23). USC has achieved 23 or more wins in a season six times in school history. The USC record for wins in a season is 24 done four times (24-2 in 1971, 24-5 in 1974, 24-6 in 1992 and 24-10 in 2001).
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 led all players in Pac-10 player with a .483 shooting percentage from three-point range. He has been especially hot of late, hitting at a .488 clip (42-for-86) over USC's last 19 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 fourth among Pac-10 players in rebounds with an 8.4 average (1st among freshmen), tops in field goal percentage at .559 (1st among freshmen), second in blocks with 61 (2nd among freshmen) and second in defensive rebounds with 198 (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. Pruitt scored a season-high 26 points on March 9 vs. Washington State in the Pac-10 semifinals.
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 61.
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 6-2 in games decided by 6-10 points and have won 13 games decided by 10 points or less (13-6), 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 .391 field goal percentage, among the 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 1963 when that held opponents to a .390 shooting percentage. The 2007 team's .391 percentage is seventh best in USC history.