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3-Points: Army 85, USC 77

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

The Trojans rallied in the second half but ultimately fell to the Black Knights in overtime snapping USC's four-game win streak.


Hot Flashes

The Trojans had plenty of opportunities where it looked like they were running away with the game in the second half. They started out on a 14-0 run before the Black Knights finally got a basket with 15 minutes remaining in the game. "We can't just take off in spurts because other teams can also go on runs and teams can get comfortable especially shooting the ball," said USC guard Katin Reinhardt. The Black Knights usually live or die by the three-pointer but tonight, the Trojans held them to just 7/32 from beyond the arc. The difference in the game was the fact that USC didn't make the shots when they needed to put the game away. The Black Knights kept shooting despite their off-night and eventually, they began to fall which led to an Army victory. 

Down to the Wire

The Trojans left 13 points at the free throw line missing a majority of them when it came down to the wire at the end of the game. Freshman Jordan McLaughlin led the Trojans with a career-high 24 points but his shot selection at the end of the game was a little questionable. "You have to have confidence and you have to be able to perform under pressure," said head coach Andy Enflied regarding his team's free throw shooting. "It has nothing to do with their technique. They have to step up to the line and make shots. I'm not going to make excuses for them."

The Buck Stops Here

The Trojans were carrying a four-game win streak headed into Saturday's game but the Black Knights put an end to that with an impressive comeback win. The Trojans face two more non-conference opponents in Boston College and Vermont to close out 2014 before starting conference play in the new year. "As it's getting closer and closer to conference season, teams are going to know what we do and we're going to know what they do but it comes down to who is playing hard. We have to do a better job of that," said Reinhardt. 

Holiday Bowl Practice #5: Player Interviews

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The Trojans are one day closer to taking on the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Holiday Bowl on December 27 in San Diego. Hear what some of the players were saying about the matchup after practice on Saturday. 

Holiday Bowl Practice #5: Notes

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

The Trojans took a break from studying hard for finals to let loose at practice on a beautiful, Saturday morning. 
  • Injury Report: DT Antwaun Woods strained a pec and missed practice today along with OLB Uchenna Nwosu who rolled his ankle. Head coach Steve Sarkisian does not believe either to be serious. 
  • Sarkisian is using the extra time before the bowl game to really let some of the younger guys compete and prove themselves. Senior captain Hayes Pullard said he's been really surprised with the young talent and compared the atmosphere of practice to Fall Camp when guys are competing for spots. "It's really been a perfect time for them to show their true colors," said the linebacker. 
  • USC DE Leonard Williams was disappointed with himself upon being named a Walter Camp 2nd Team All-American, but is humbled and honored to be named an ESPN.com First Team All-American - the first Trojan defensive end to earn that status twice since Marlin McKeever in 1959-60. Both Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox praised Williams' attitude saying, "He just loves football. He loves USC. He loves his teammates." 
  • The junior is still very conflicted about his future saying the decision to forego his senior season for the NFL draft is getting harder and harder every day. "I think about it all the time. Everyone's asking about it. It's going to be the hardest decision I will probably ever make," said Williams. He most likely won't make a decision until after the bowl game but is reaching out to USC alumni like Willie McGinest who have been in a similar position for advice. At the end of the day, he said, "as cheesy as it may be it's going to come down to how I feel in my heart."
  • CB Adoree' Jackson is racking up awards after a breakout freshman season. He already was named the PAC-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year and earned 24/7 Sports All-American accolades on Friday. Wilcox credited the freshman's success with his incredibly competitive nature and is impressed with the cornerback's progression since the start of the season. "He's made a lot of plays late in the season tipping the ball away and stuff," said the defensive coordinator. "Those are going to turn into interceptions. He's also by far one of the best tacklers on the team."
  • On Saturday night, a new Heisman Trophy winner will be announced and Oregon QB Marcus Mariota is the clear front-runner in Sarkisian's mind. He recruited Mariota hard and also faced him a few times when he was coaching at Washington. The USC head coach had nothing but high praise for the QB crediting his demeanor, but also raving about the QB's speed saying that he was so fast that even the versatile Shaq Thompson couldn't keep up. 
  • Here is the head coach after Saturday's practice...

Williams Doubles Down

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USC DE Leonard Williams was named a First Team All-American by ESPN.com becoming the first Trojan defensive end since Marlin McKeever in 1959-60 to earn All-American First Team status twice. 

Click here for the ESPN All-American team.

Williams is ESPN's only holdover from the 2013 All-American squad. He finished his junior season second on the team with 71 tackles, including 8.5 for loss and 6 sacks, plus he forced three fumbles and snagged an interception.

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Holiday Bowl Practice #4: Notes

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The Trojans embraced the elements enjoying an early morning practice in the rain.
  • JuJu Smith ran out into the middle of the field to dance in the rain at the start of practice. Later, the teenage phenom would make rain angels in a large puddle. The freshman wide receiver is indicative of a team that loves playing football together. "The best part about this team is that we really find a happy medium," said QB Cody Kessler. "When it's time to have fun and enjoy ourselves, we do, but when it comes time to compete, we get down to business and get serious. That's all you can ask for."
  • Smith has a truly unique spirit, which is "innate in him," said head coach Steve Sarkisian. "He's so mature in every facet of life that it just carries over to the field. He loves playing."
  • Kessler described Smith by saying, "He has the it factor. Whatever it is... It's really cool that he was 17 for half the season and he has already gained as much respect as he has."
  • While Smith may end up joining them as the publications continue to roll out postseason awards, CB Adoree' Jackson and OL Toa Lobendahn were named Freshman All-Americans by 24/7 Sports. "It is a tremendous honor," said Lobendahn. "A big thanks to Coach Drev and my family for getting me to this point, and the big thing is that I keep working from here on out."
  • On the field, the Trojans are still focusing on youth as the team grinds through finals week.  Next Wednesday, the coaches will begin to implement the Nebraska game plan. "I think this is a very good football team we are playing," said Sarkisian about his Holiday Bowl opponent. "I know they are going to be hungry and ready to play." He cited examples of USC and Washington last year, which played great in bowl games despite interim head coaches.
  • Cody Kessler was again asked about his NFL future, but he is focused on the present. "All I'm thinking about is Nebraska. Nebraska, Nebraska, Nebraska."
  • Leonard Williams made the Walter Camp All-American Second Team, which is something of a disappointment considering he is considered the number one defensive end prospect in the nation. Again, many more All-American teams are yet to be announced, but Williams lost out to defensive ends with higher sack totals, but Sarkisian explained that playing interior lineman "is more than just about sheer numbers."
  • Here is Sarkisian enjoying the post-game rain shower with the media...



Sealed with a Kiss

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USC women's basketball freshman McKenzie Calvert launched a game-tying three-pointer beating the buzzer with a kiss off the glass to send the game into overtime Tuesday night.  The Women of Troy would go on to defeat Cal State Northridge 85-74 improving their record to 6-2.

Click here for the recap.

The Trojans needed several personal best performances to overcome the Matadors including career-high scoring nights for Alexyz Vaioletama (24 points) and Calvert (21 points). Jordan Adams dished out a career-high 8 assists, and freshman Kristen Simon tallied a career-high 11 rebounds.

The Women of Troy continue their seven-game home stand on Sunday against Sacramento State at 2 p.m.

Here is our Caroline Deisley with head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke and Vaioletama after the win:


Tennis Stars at Galen Center

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Galen Center will host to American tennis legends Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, James Blake and Andy Roddick playing for the SoCal Honda Dealers Helpful Cup on March 25 as part of the 2015 PowerShares Series champion's tennis circuit.

Click here for more.

The one-night event will feature two one-set semifinal matches, followed by a one-set championship match. Tickets and unique VIP fan experience packages are now on sale. Tickets start at $30 and all ticket and VIP information is available at PowerSharesSeries.com.

Roddick and Sampras are both U.S. Open champions.
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Pullard Tabbed for Senior Bowl

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USC captain Hayes Pullard accepted an invitation to play in the 2015 Reese's Senior Bowl on January 24 in Mobile, Alabama. The annual all-star game serves as a week-long showcase for talented seniors in front of NFL coaches and scouts.

Click here for the complete release.

Pullard is a four-year starter who led the Trojans in tackles in three of those four seasons, including 87 tackles and counting during this campaign. He also has recorded an interception in three consecutive seasons.

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Boselli Enshrined

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Two-time USC All-American offensive tackle Tony Boselli was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame at a ceremony last night in New York City.

Click here for more.

Boselli became the 40th Trojan to be so honored joining the likes of Ronnie Lott and Lynn Swann, who were in attendance for the National Football Foundation dinner.

(Photo by Mike McLaughlin)

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Giant Rookie Season

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Former USC captain Devon Kennard is in the midst of an outstanding rookie season for the New York Giants - and people are starting to notice. This week, Kennard was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in the Giants' 36-7 victory over the Tennessee Titans.

The linebacker had six solo tackles, including two sacks, two tackles for loss and a forced fumble that resulted in a touchdown. It was Kennard's second straight two-sack game, bringing his career sack total to four. Not only is Kennard the first Giants linebacker to be honored since 2011, but he is the first Giants defensive rookie ever to be named Conference Player of the Week.

After being drafted in the fifth-round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Kennard missed three early-season games battling a hamstring injury. He came back in full force, playing in 10 of the Giants' 13 games, including three starts in the team's last four match-ups. The rookie has 32 tackles (25 solo) on the season and is tied for second on the team with eight tackles for loss.

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