3-Points: USC 70, UW 55

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

The Trojans dominated the Huskies in their final home game of the season in a win that featured phenomenal performances from Julian Jacobs, Elijah Stewart and Nikola Jovanovic.

Click here for the full recap and box score from Saturday's victory.

Happy at Home

Each of USC's three conference wins this season were played at home, including Saturday's victory on Fan Appreciation Night. The energized Galen Center crowd witnessed one of the team's best showings of the year, as the Trojans played high-intensity and wildly-entertaining basketball from the opening tip to the final whistle. Three Trojans finished in double figures, including Nikola Jovanovic with 16 points, Elijah Stewart with 14 and Katin Reinhardt with 11. Even without forwards Strahinja Gavrilovic and Darion Clark (who left the game early due to a knee injury) USC dominated Washington in the paint, 44-14. The Trojans looked like the team they've aspired to be all year under head coach Andy Enfield, which he attributed to their ability to get out fast in transition. "Our goal all year was to improve every week and every month. We've done that," said Enfield after the game. "We are a much better basketball team. We had some bumps, we had some injuries but our goal is to compete. We're competing, we're getting better and we know the future is bright."

Speed Kills

The difference in Saturday's game was speed, as the Trojans got out to a fast start and never looked back. USC forced 12 turnovers, had eight steals and notched four blocks which allowed the team to capitalize on fast break opportunities and push the tempo. The Trojans led for the majority of the first half, but after the Huskies narrowed the lead to five, the coaching staff placed an emphasis on increasing defensive pressure in the second. Their players answered the call, going on a 19-10 run in the first seven minutes of the second half to put the game out of reach for Washington. Nikola Jovanovic played a pivotal role in the second half push, scoring 15 of his 16 total points after the break. Enfield was most impressed with freshman Elijah Stewart's ability to make plays on the defensive end of the court, allowing his team to break away with a victory. "To get out in transition you have to play good defense," explained Enfield. "We did that tonight. I thought Elijah and Julian played great tonight on defense. I think Elijah's going to be a an All-Pac-12 defender in his career here."

Numbers Game

The Trojans put up stellar numbers across the board, out-rebounding the Huskies 46 to 43 and shooting 43.8 percent from the field to Washington's 29.7. USC finished with 18 second-chance points and 19 fast break points as well. The team effort was highlighted by remarkable play from Jacobs and Stewart who both finished with career-high rebounding marks. Stewart nearly clinched a double-double with 14 points and nine boards, while Jacobs was in hot pursuit of a triple-double, finishing with 10 rebounds, nine assists and eight points. Jacobs is one of just two players in the country who is averaging 10 points, five assists and five rebounds in the month of February. The sophomore guard has stepped up in the absence of Jordan McLaughlin and continues to see improvement in his own game as well as his team's. "I want to do what I can to lead the best way that I can," said Jacobs. "Coach told me I had to embrace that sense of leadership and I'm trying to do that every time I step on the court."

Here are the SnappyTV highlights, including dunks from Elijah Stewart, Malik Martin and Julian Jacobs...

#USCBHM: Student-Athlete Podcast

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After 20 inspiring and original stories in 28 days, USC Athletics' month-long celebration of Black History Month culminates with a student-athlete podcast featuring D.J. Morgan, Akawkaw "Coco" Ncha-Ndip, Dominique Randle and Reggie Southall.

To listen, click here!

As #USCBHM concludes, USC Athletics is deeply grateful for its rich African-American heritage and excited for an equally powerful future.

2015 Spring Football Guide

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USC will kick off spring football on Tuesday as the Trojans begin a slate of 15 practices, culminating in the Spring Game on April 11 at the Coliseum. Tickets for the Spring Game are $10 and can be purchased at the box office on the day of the game.

Click here to download the official USC Spring Football guide.

The practices will be divided between Cromwell Field (the track stadium) and the Coliseum, while Howard Jones and Brian Kennedy Fields undergo offseason maintenance. All 10 practices on Cromwell will be open to the public, while the Coliseum practices are closed with the exception of the Spring Game.

Open practice dates on Cromwell Field:

March 3-5-7-12-24-26-28

April 2-4-9

Also of note, the five spring entrants were given their uniform numbers:

OL Chuma Edoga - No. 70

OL Roy Hemsley - No. 63

LB Cameron Smith - No. 35

QB Ricky Town - No. 8

WR Isaac Whitney - No. 15

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Men's Basketball Appreciates the Fans

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USC men's basketball is thanking its loyal fans by dedicating the final home game to the Trojan Family. No one will leave Galen Center empty-handed.

Click here for tickets!

The Trojans take on Washington at 7:30 p.m. before traveling to UCLA (Wednesday at 6 p.m.) to close the regular season.


USC Ready for College Baseball Classic

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USC baseball, off to its best start since 1988, will face-off against No. 7 UCLA in the upcoming Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic. The Classic, which features the two most recent College World Series champions, in addition to USC and TCU, begins Friday, March 6 when defending champion No. 5 Vanderbilt visits Dedeaux Field to play the Trojans at 6 p.m. USC will play host to No. 2 TCU on Saturday at 2 p.m. before all four teams head to Dodger Stadium on Sunday, March 8.

The USC-UCLA game will begin at 3:30 p.m. PT at Dodger Stadium and will be televised by Pac-12 Networks. Tickets are available for purchase here, and start as low as $10.


Photo Gallery: A Day in Troy

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

For most kids, the thought of spending a whole day on the USC campus hanging out with USC student-athletes is the stuff of dreams. Last Sunday, that dream became a reality for over 4,000 students from local Los Angeles middle and elementary schools who visited USC for the 10th annual Day In Troy. The day included a tour of campus, an educational session, a carnival and a women's basketball game alongside over 150 student-athletes.

Click here to read the full recap from the annual event.

It was a powerful experience for both the elementary and middle school students and the student-athletes alike. The younger kids were inspired and challenged to strive for academic excellence while the Trojan athletes were thrilled with the opportunity to act as mentors.

"That was a really good feeling," sophomore defensive back John Plattenburg said at the end of the day. "We showed them a lot of cool things that most people don't have the chance to see. I think this is a great event, an experience I wish I had as a kid."

Check out the John McGillen photos from all of Sunday's activities...

3-points: Washington State 70, USC 66

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

The Trojans overcame a 19-point deficit late in the second half on Wednesday to make the final three minutes exhilarating as always; however, USC could not close the gap to capture another Pac-12 win. 

One-Man Band

Julian Jacobs single-handedly brought the Trojans back into this game after it had started to slip away at the Galen Center. The captain took over the game finishing with 16 points, nine assists and five rebounds with no turnovers. Malik Marquetti also contributed to the Trojans' valiant effort with a career-high 16 points joining Jacobs and guard Katin Reinhardt who also had 16 points as the team's leading scorers. Even more impressive, both Reinhardt and Jacobs scored 12 of their 16 points in the second half. Jacobs always seems to be the spark that USC needs when the game starts to get a little out of reach. "He got us there. He got us back in the game," said head coach Andy Enfield. "Julian's always high energy. I thought tonight he played an excellent floor game...He played his heart out tonight." However, Jacobs' aggressiveness got the best of him at the end when USC had the opportunity to tie the game with roughly 30 seconds left, and the point guard dribbled around before missing a shot in the lane without running a set play. However, the head coach assured that he is not to blame saying that it was an open shot that unfortunately Jacobs just missed. 

Growing Pains

This is USC's ninth game since the start of conference play that came down to the final minutes. Throughout the season, Enfield has stressed the team's youthfulness as a reason for its inability to be clutch down the stretch. The young squad has certainly had its fair share of experiences this season with all the close games; however, it has yet to successfully execute in the final minutes. "It's frustrating. We're close. We have to be able to make winning plays down the stretch and that's on the offensive end and the defensive end," said Enfield. "We're not there yet as a team where we can just go and be up 10 or 15 the whole game and dominate the game. We're fighting and competing and we're young. We try to give ourselves a chance to win the games."

Hot Flashes

One of the most frustrating aspects of the Trojans' loss on Wednesday was the flashy periods of hot and cold play from the players. USC started off the game on a 12-5 run before allowing Washington State to go on an 18-2 run. The Trojans had to overcome a 19-point deficit with about seven minutes to go because the Cougars came out firing after halftime to extend their lead, while USC struggled to hit shots. "We missed a lot of easy shots," said Enfield. The head coach then went on to mention how the high percentage shooters are getting the ball more often, they just aren't choosing the right shots and not drawing enough contact on shots in the paint. Enfield has been saying all season that in many of the team's losses, the players have shown flashes of potential, but they have yet to really string together a complete game. Marquetti also added that the resurgence in the second half specifically came from some of the players picking it up and playing a little harder than they had been. 

Head coach Andy Enfield announced that freshman PG Jordan McLaughlin will have shoulder surgery and will be out for the rest of the season. The rehabilitation is roughly five to six months, but could be longer if McLaughlin has to have surgery on both shoulders, which is still up for debate. McLaughlin injured his shoulder prior to coming to USC, then dislocated it against Colorado early in the season and dislocated it again in the Utah game on February 1. 

USC will play its final home game this Saturday against the University of Washington at 7:30p.m. 

Here are the highlight's from Wednesday's close loss to Washington State...

#USCBHM: Quincy Watts

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When Quincy Watts arrived at USC, he was a 100- and 200-meter sprinter with electrifying talent. By the time he left, he was ready to become the greatest 400-meter runner in the world.

Click here for more on Watts!

Watts is now an assistant coach at USC working with the next generation of talented runners.


Carroll's Commencement

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Former USC and current Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll will receive an honorary degree at USC's 2015 commencement ceremony. The degree serves as recognition of Carroll's accomplishments both on and off the field including a nine-year coaching tenure at USC, two national championships, a Super Bowl victory and the foundation of two gang-violence prevention and community-building organizations (A Better LA and A Better Seattle).

The 2015 commencement ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. on May 15 in Alumni Park on campus.


Faces of the 40: USC Edition

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Six Trojans clocked their 40 times at the NFL Combine last weekend and the NFL's Ben Liebenberg captured every explosive second. Here is the USC edition of "Faces of the 40" featuring J.R. Tavai, Nelson Agholor, Leonard Williams, Josh Shaw, Buck Allen and Hayes Pullard.