USC To Host No. 16/No. 15 ASU At Galen Thursday
Jan. 13, 2009
LOS ANGELES -- The USC Trojans (10-5, 1-2) will host the Arizona State Sun Devils (14-2, 3-1) at the Galen Center on Jan. 15 at 7:30 p.m. USC has won seven of its last 10 games with the losses being by one point at then No. 6 Oklahoma, in overtime at Oregon St. and by four to then No. 10/7 UCLA. USC lost for the first time at home this season on Jan. 11 vs. UCLA and is now 8-1 at home. The Trojans have not lost consecutive home games at the Galen Center since falling to Washington St. on Dec. 30, 2006 and UCLA on Jan. 13, 2007. Last season, USC was 9-6, 0-3 after the first 15 games.
BREAKING DOWN THE SUN DEVILS -- The Sun Devils are 14-2, 3-1 in conference play, having just dispatched the Oregon school in the desert last weekend. Sophomore James Harden leads ASU and all conference players with a 23.1 scoring average. USC was 2-1 vs. the Sun Devils last season and owns a 46-31 record all-time against Arizona State. The Sun Devils were a preseason pick to finish second in the Pac-10.
TROJANS EDGED AT HOME BY No. 10/No. 7 UCLA -- UCLA's Jrue Holiday hit a jumper with 4:28 left to snap a 53-all tie and Nikola Dragovic followed with a three-pointer to give the Bruins a five-point lead and they hung on for a 64-60 win on Jan. 11 at the Galen Center. The win ran UCLA's winning streak to nine games and snapped the Trojan's 12-game home winning streak. USC trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half, but closed to within two points at the half. USC then used a 12-0 run early in the second half to earn a six-point advantage. DeMar DeRozan led USC with 15 points, 11 of them in the first half. Daniel Hackett added 13 points and a team-leading seven rebounds.
ARIZONA ON DECK -- USC's next game will be vs. Arizona (11-5, 2-2) on Jan. 17 at 5 p.m. in the Galen Center. Arizona lost both games in the Bay Area, but bounced back to defeat Oregon and Oregon St. last weekend in Tucson. The Wildcats are led by a trio of juniors in Chase Budinger (17.3 ppg, 5.9 reb.), Jordan Hill (17.8 ppg, 12.0 reb.) and Nic Wise (13.6 ppg, 4.9 apg.). USC trails in the all-time series with Arizona, 37-54, though the Trojans have won four of the last five meetings. Arizona will first play at UCLA on Jan. 15.
GIBSON RISING UP THE BLOCK EXCHANGE -- Taj Gibson had two blocks vs. UCLA to give him 199 in his career. He needs one more to become 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. Gibson also has been rising up the USC career scoring charts and currently stands 31st with 1,036 points.
DEROZAN DELIVERING DOUBLE-- USC freshman DeMar DeRozan had 14 points and 12 rebounds at Oregon on Jan. 2 for his first career double-double. The 12 rebounds were also a season high. DeRozan has reached double figures in scoring in 10 straight games, tied for the longest current streak in the Pac-10. In the last six games, DeRozan has averaged 15.3 points (92) and 6.0 rebounds (36). Entering play this week, DeRozan ranks 18th among conference players in scoring with an 12.0 average.
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 immediately stepped in an had an impact. In his first four games, Johnson has averaged 5.0 points and 4.0 rebounds in 18.5 minutes. He made his first start on Jan. 11 vs. UCLA and had 4 points and 4 rebounds in 17 minutes of action. In his first game for USC vs. ORU on Dec. 28, Johnson scored six points, grabbed two rebounds and had three steals. He played in part of one exhibition game for UConn last season before transferring and thus had to sit out the first semester. He has a career high of 20 points on Dec. 18, 2005 vs. UNH.
SENIOR WILKINSON STEPPING UP -- Senior forward Keith Wilkinson has averaged 8.3 points in the last three games and 7.3 points in the four games forward Leonard Washington has been out of the lineup. He also has 15 rebounds and 12 assists in the last four games.
TROJANS IN THE RANKINGS -- USC is not currently ranked. USC began the season ranked No. 18 in the Associated Press Poll and No. 21 in both the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll and CBSSportsline.com Poll.
STEPHESON WAIVER PETITION DENIED -- Talented forward Alex Stepheson had his transfer waiver petition denied by the NCAA on Nov. 19 and will 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.
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. Guard Ryan Wetherell has an eye injury and is expected to miss at least several more games. Forward Leonard Washington suffered a high left ankle sprain on Dec. 22...an MRI was negative and he is expected to miss 2-4 weeks. Guard Marcus Simmon's surgically repaired left ankle has been sore and he is listed as day-to-day.
TAJ HAS BEEN A TOWER OF POWER -- Taj Gibson has averaged 15.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.1 blocks in USC's first 15 games, including seven double-doubles giving him 23 in his career. The last Trojan to average a double-double was 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. His 18 rebounds vs. Seton Hall, along with SHU's John Garcia, established a new Puerto Rico Tip-Off single-game record.
HE CAN SURE HACKETT -- Junior point guard Daniel 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). Hackett leads all conference players with 86 assists and 5.7 assists per game.
HACKETT IS MONEY FROM THE LINE -- USC junior Daniel Hackett made .823 percent of his free throws last season (79 of 96) to finish fifth among Pac-10 players from the line. He is 56-for-69 this season (.812) and his career free throw percentage of .808 (219 of 271) currently places him second all-time among Trojan players (Harold Miner - .814). Hackett made his first 11 free throws on Dec. 22 vs. Georgia Tech before missing his final one. He had made 19 consecutive free throws before the miss and has hit 67 of his last 80 (.838).
THE DWIGHT STUFF -- Junior Dwight Lewis has made a team-leading 24 three-pointers this season and 75 in his career to move into 20th place on USC's all-time three-point baskets made list. Current USC Associate Athletic Director Brandon Martin (1993-96) is 19th with 77 career three-pointers made. 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 a career-high four three-pointers. Lewis scored in double figures in a career-high nine straight games to start this season and in 12 of 15 games overall. Prior to this season, his longest streak of consecutive games scoring in double figures was four. However, in his last two games, the junior guard is just 4-for-24 from the field, including 2-for-12 from three-point range, for a total of 10 points.
ENJOYING THE HOME COOKING -- USC is 8-1 at home this season. The loss to UCLA on Jan. 11 snapped a 12-game home winning streak at the Galen Center dating back to 2007-08, a Galen Center record. USC's record for most consecutive wins in one season at the Galen Center is nine consecutive games Nov. 18-Dec. 28, 2006 during the inaugural season. The last time USC won more consecutive home games to start a season was the 2000-01 season when they began 10-0 at home which was part of a 12-game home winning streak as they ended the previous season with two victories at home.
FACING THE BEST -- USC's 2008-09 schedule features a potential 22 games against teams that finished .500 or better in 2007-08, including 13 that won 20 or more games. Also, eight of the teams that USC is set to face were in last year's tournament, including two games each with the five other Pac-10 teams which were in the NCAA Tournament. As of Jan. 12, four of USC's opponents are a combined 20-45, while the other 11 are 108-65. Eight of USC's 15 opponents have a .500 or better record and nine of those teams have won eight or more games.
BREAKING DOWN THE LOSSES -- Although USC has lost five games this season, they led most of the way against Seton Hall (9-7), Missouri (13-3) and Oregon St. (6-8) and fell by a point at then No. 6 Oklahoma (16-1) and by four to then No. 7 UCLA (13-2). The combined record of the teams USC lost to is 57-21 (through games of Jan. 12).
DRIVEN BY DEFENSE -- USC has held 46 teams to 60 points or less in Tim Floyd's first 115 games as USC's head coach, including seven this season. The Trojans held 20 of their opponents last season to 39.2 percent shooting or less, and have held 60 teams under 40 percent shooting in the first 115 games under Floyd, eight times this season. USC was outshot from the field in just five of 33 games last season and only twice this season (Missouri & Oregon St.). USC has had a better shooting percentage that its opponent in 72 of the last 85 games.
TROJANS WINNING THE BOARD GAME -- USC outrebounded the opposition in its first 11 games before being beaten on the glass 34-32 by Oral Roberts on Dec. 29, but has had a rebounding edge in 14 of 15 games this season. USC has enjoyed a 8.3 rebound edge per game (38.9-30.6), good for 13th in the country. USC had the same amount of rebounds as its opponents last season, and lost the battle of the boards the two previous seasons. The 11 consecutive games USC had more rebounds than its opponent is the best stretch in the Tim Floyd era. USC was outrebounded in 17 of 33 games last season.