USC Takes On ASU On Saturday At The Galen Center
Jan. 1, 2010
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- The USC Trojans (9-4, 1-0) will face the Arizona State Sun Devils (10-4, 0-1) at the Galen Center on Jan. 2 at 7:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on FSNW with Paul Sunderland and Brandon Granville 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. USC's seven consecutive wins are the most since winning nine straight from Nov. 25-Dec. 23, 2005. USC is trying to begin Pac-10 play 2-0 for the first time since the 2001-02 season when they started 5-0 in conference.
SCOUTING THE SUN DEVILS -- Arizona State is 10-4 following its 72-70 loss at UCLA on Dec. 31. It has been a complete team effort by ASU as no one player ranks among the top 15 in the Pac-10 in scoring and only one player in the top 20 in rebounds. They have, however, shot the lights out, shooting at a 48.1 clip while holding opponents to 39.3 percent. ASU also stretches defenses with their outside shooting, having connected on a conference-leading 121 three-pointers in 14 games, as compared to the Trojans' 38 in their first 13 games. USC took two out of three games from ASU last season, including winning 66-63 in the Pac-10 Tournament title game. USC leads the all-time series with ASU, 48-32, and has won nine of the last 13 games against the Sun Devils.
USC OPENS PAC-10 PLAY WITH WIN VS. ARIZONA -- USC led by as many as 17 points in the first half and saw the lead shrink to five on several occasions in the second half before defeating Arizona 56-50 in the Pac-10 opener on Dec. 31. USC held Arizona to a season-low 30.0 percent shooting and registered eight blocked shots in the game. The 50 points allowed to Arizona were the fewest in the series since winning 26-25 in 1937. Marcus Johnson and Dwight Lewis led USC's attack with 14 points apiece.
CARDINAL ON DECK -- Stanford is 6-6 and opens its Pac-10 slate Saturday at California. The Cardinal have been led by senior Landry Fields who ranks second in the Pac-10 in both scoring (23.4) and rebounds (9.0) and has tied for or been Stanford's leading scorer and rebounder in 11 of 12 contests. USC has won four of the last six games vs. Stanford and owns a 118-117 advantage in the all-time series. The teams split their two games during the 2008-09 season.
TROJANS PLAY THE ROLL OF SCROOGE ON DEFENSE -- USC enters the game having allowed 726 points in its first 13 games (55.8 ppg), its fewest through 13 games since allowing 723 points in the first 13 games of the 1951-52 season. USC has held its last seven opponents to 56 points or less and nine times in 13 games this season.
CRAZY EIGHTS -- USC has held six of its last seven opponents to eight field goals or less in the first half. In the last seven games, USC's opponents are shooting 27.9 percent (53-for-190) before halftime and have scored an average of 21.9 points (153 total in the 1st half).
GERRITY NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK -- Mike Gerrity was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for Dec. 21-27 as he helped lead USC to the Diamond Head Classic title by averaging 15.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists, while making 62.1 percent of his shots. He is the second straight Trojan to be honored as Alex Stepheson won for the week of Dec. 14-20.
MORE DOUBLE-DOUBLES THAN DOUBLE-D -- Sophomore forward Nikola Vucevic already has five double-doubles in his first 13 games this season, tied for the Pac-10 lead and 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 13 games he is averaging 12.6 points and 9.8 rebounds, after averaging 2.6 points and 2.7 rebounds as a freshman last season. His 9.8 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 21-7 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. Johnson scored his USC high of 19 points and had a career-high nine rebounds vs. UNLV on Dec. 25. Johnson leads USC with 21 steals and is third in rebounds with 62 and blocks with nine.
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 43.9 percent from the field and 81.3 percent from the free throw line.
SMITH STEPPING UP -- Junior guard Donte Smith has averaged 5.6 points through USC's first 13 games and leads USC with 12 three-pointers made (12-for-35, 34.3 percent), as many as 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 46-12 record all-time at the Galen Center, including winning 25 of the last 29 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 102-54 record this season (65.4 winning percentage) through games of Jan. 1.
PAC-10 PREDICTIONS -- USC was picked to finish ninth in the Pac-10 Conference in a vote by the league media. California was picked first, Washington second, UCLA third, Arizona fourth, Oregon State fifth, Oregon sixth, Arizona State seventh, Washington State eighth and Stanford 10th.
A HISTORY OF WINNING -- USC has compiled a record of 1,468-1,046 in its 104 years of intercollegiate basketball competition. USC has had a .500 or better record in 74 of the first 103 seasons.
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 ranked No. 35 by AP, tied for 36 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll and 26th in the CBSSportsline Poll.
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. 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 five 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 11 games, he has averaged 10.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.
I LIKE MIKE -- What is not to like for Trojan fans as the senior has played five games, 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. Gerrity has averaged 12.6 points, 3.8 assists and 3.4 rebounds in his first five 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 19 assists and 15 turnovers, the only Trojan with a positive assist to turnover ratio.
WASHINGTON RETURNS -- 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. He then scored nine points and had four rebounds and a block vs. UNLV on Dec. 25. 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.
LEWIS BREAKS INTO TOP 20 -- Senior Dwight Lewis from Metarie, La. has scored 1,210 career points, 20th all-time at USC and one point behind Ron Holmes (1981-85) who is in 19th place with 1,211 and 37 behind Purvis Miller (1978-81) who is in 18th place with 1,247. 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.
DRIVEN BY DEFENSE -- USC has held 62 teams to 60 points or less in the last five seasons (148 games), including nine this season. The Trojans held 17 of their opponents last season to 39.2 percent shooting or less, and have held 76 teams under 40 percent shooting in the last 148 games. USC was outshot from the field just nine times last season and four times so far this season (Nebraska, Texas, GT & WMU). USC has had a better shooting percentage that its opponent in 94 of the last 118 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 seven Trojan opponents have combined to make 31.4 percent (118-for-376) from the field.
PLAYING BOARD GAMES -- USC is 7-5-1 in the rebound battle this season and despite being slightly outrebounded in each of the last four games (a total of seven rebounds), has a rebound advantage of 420-339 in the last 11 games.
SOMETHING HAS TO GIVE -- USC is holding opponents to 32.2 percent shooting from three-point range, including a 23.7 percent in the last five games (23-for-97). Arizona State is making 39.7 percent of its three-pointers, second in the conference, and has made 121 shots from behind the arc, 32 more than any other Pac-10 team.