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February 2010 Archives

Behind-The-Scenes Slideshow

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Check Below for a look at the behind-the-scenes festivities from tonight's game.


AP Report

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Click here for the full write-up from the AP on tonight's game.

Too Little, Too Late

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The Trojans didn't have enough senior magic down the stretch and fall to Oregon State, 49-44.

Final Stats for USC:

Scoring: Gerrity-13, Lewis-11, Washington-6, Stepheson-4, Vucevic-4, Smith-3, Johnson-3

Rebounding: Vucevic-8, Washington-8, Stepheson-6, Johnson-5, Gerrity-3, Lewis-2, Smith-1

Assists- Gerrity-3, Lewis-2, Vucevic-1, Smith-1

Mike Gerrity Coast-to-Coast

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Mike Gerrity drives the length of the court and converts on a tough lay up amongst the trees to cut the game to two. Oregon State calls timeout up two, 46-44 with just under 30 seconds remaining.

Final Minute of Play

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USC trails by two, 44-42, Here we go....

Oregon State Calls Timeout

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Oregon State calls a quick 30 second timeout with 1:23 remaining. USC applied great pressure on the inbound and forced the Beavers to call a timeout instead of giving up the turnover. The score is still 44-41 OSU.

Blocking Foul on Gerrity Sends J. Tarver to the Line

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Josh Tarver hits them both, the Trojans trail 44-39 with 1:57 remaining.

3:00 To Go, Trojans Trail By Three

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42-39, OSU.

USC Calls Timeout 13:37 Remaining

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An extended 1-3-1 defense by the Beavers has been plaguing USC's offensive attack. The Trojans have only four points on the half. Head Coach Kevin O'Neill has switched to a two-point-guard front with both Mike Gerrity and Donte Smith on the floor. The added speed he hopes will allow the Trojans to get into the middle of the zone and break it from there.

At the Half

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USC clings to a one-point, 25-24 lead.  In the locker room Head Coach Kevin O'Neill urged his team to play with assertive energy. " We're all over the place," he said. " Play like we have practiced and don't let them [Oregon State] come out with energy to start the half." "We need to win the first four minutes."

USC's Lead Shrinking

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USC leads by 6, 23-17, after a great drive by Mike Gerrity. Head Coach Kevin O'Neill wants his team to push the tempo, and make it more of an up and down game.

Under 8:00 Timeout

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The Trojans lead 19-10 with Mike Geritty stepping to the line for two.

In the timeout, Head Coach Kevin O'Neill told his team to stay active, and not give Oregon State anything. "We break them right here," he said. "Let's make another run."

First Things First

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The Trojans are currently trailing 5-3 with 15:00 minutes remaining in the first half. Dwight Lewis has the lone field goal for USC.

Not Out of It Yet

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The Trojans can still clinch a share of the Pac-10 regular season title with three games remaining on the Pac-10 Calendar. USC will need to win out, while Arizona State must beat first-place Cal on February 27th, followed by Stanford knocking off Cal in their rivalry game on March 6th. Arizona State then must lose to UCLA in their last game of conference play on March 6th. This will then force a three-way tie for the Conference Championship.


Keys To the Game

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USC's Keys to the game:

  • Share the ball
  • Great energy
  • Play with Passion\

Stay tuned for live updates from the Trojan Bench.

Senior Awards Presentation

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A full recap of today's senior awards will be posted after the completion of today's game. Forwards Casey Cunningham, Marcus Johnson, Dwight Lewis and guard Mike Gerrity were honored. Each were accompanied by their families.

Senior Night

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The Trojans will step onto the floor at 11:30 for a light practice before tonight's game, but tonight is about the four seniors on the Trojan roster : Casey Cunningham, Marcus Johnson, Mike Gerrity, and Dwight Lewis. Come support the Trojans in their last home game this season. Tip Off is at 7:30 PM PST.

Resting

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The Trojans held an optional shoot around today needing rest after last night's 54-44 loss to Oregon. USC ran out of gas in the second half, scoring just 12 points in the last twenty minutes of play.

The Trojans will be back on the court tomorrow at 11:30 AM PST for practice before tomorrow night's game against Oregon St. This will be the final home game on the season. USC will honor seniors Dwight Lewis, Mike Gerrity, Marcus Johnson, and Casey Cunningham before tip-off at 7:30 PM PST.

Action Shots From USC vs. Oregon

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Take a look at these action shots from tonight's game vs. Oregon. All photos courtesy of Pierson Clair of PC4Photo.

Behind-the-scenes photos

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Check out this special behind-the-scenes slideshow of images from tonight's 54-44 loss, brought to you by Josh Moser of the Trojan Fever Basketball Blog:


All photos by Josh Moser

O'Neill: 'We have to be men about it'

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Here's what Coach Kevin O'Neill had to say to the media following USC's 54-44 loss to Oregon on Thursday night:

  • "We didn't have it tonight. It's a shame to play that poorly in the second half."
  • "We had a general lack of energy and didn't play how we needed to play. It's unfortunate."
  • "If you score 12 points [in a half] at this level, you're not going to beat anybody."
  • "We didn't play too well in the first half, honestly. We didn't come out with any oomph at all."
  • "In my estimation, our team has started to wear down."
  • "We have three games left to play. We've got to play our butts off each game. We have to be men about it."

Tough loss

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The Trojans had scoreless streaks of nine-plus and six-plus minutes in the second half and were outscored 31-12 after halftime in their brutal 54-44 defeat to Oregon on Thursday night at the Galen Center. Here are the stats from the game.

Trojans fall, 54-44

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USC scored just 12 points in the second half while allowing 31, giving Oregon a 54-44 win over the Trojans at the Galen Center tonight.

The beginning of the end

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The Galen Center has been deflated.

Oregon's Tajuan Porter hit a three and LeKendric Longmire converted a three-point play, giving the Ducks a nine-point lead with less than a minute left. Dejected fans are beginning to pour out of the arena as the Trojans begin to helplessly foul.

Closing moments

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With 1:19 remaining and Oregon maintaining a 47-44 lead, the Ducks just called a 30-second timeout.

Calling the play

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With his scratched out offensive play on his lap, Coach Kevin O'Neill talks through the call with his players during the most recent timeout.

Down by 3

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At the final media timeout of the game, with 3:52 remaining, Oregon holds a 47-44 advantage.

Tip game

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Forward Leonard Washington just tipped in a bucket to tie the score at 42, inciting a raucous standing ovation from the Galen Center crowd. The energy hit a crescendo when Oregon called a timeout on its way up the court, with 6:50 left in the contest.

Be the aggressor

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USC trails, 40-38, at the second-to-last media timeout of the game, with 7:49 remaining. Coach Kevin O'Neill instructed his players to get the ball into the paint on the offensive end of the court.

"Be aggressive and be ready to shoot," O'Neill said during the timeout.

Close one

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The blowout has turned into a nail-biter, with Oregon now taking a 39-38 lead and a timeout with 8:48 remaining.

Taking a timeout

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The Trojans listen in as Coach Kevin O'Neill shares instruction during the recent timeout.

All about the defense

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USC's 12-point lead has turned into a one-point disadvantage, and Coach Kevin O'Neill went back to the basics during the recent media timeout with 11:41 left in the game.

"The game is going to be decided on the defensive end," O'Neill told his team. "So let's go to work on defense. We've got to get stops right now."

Pause for effect

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The Ducks have cut the Trojan lead to just one, so Kevin O'Neill took a timeout with less than 13 minutes remaining and his team up, 36-35.

"We're going to quit turning the ball over down here [on offense]," O'Neill said during the 30-second timeout. "Let's get it together."

Slimming down

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With 15:07 left in the game, the first media timeout of the second half has arrived, with the Trojans holding a 36-31 lead.

Halftime adjustments

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A nine-point halftime lead?

Coach Kevin O'Neill isn't satisfied -- and he doesn't want his players to be either.

"We're ahead by nine but we're not playing well," O'Neill said. "We've got to extend this lead. Play with force."

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With some plays and adjustments scribbled on the board behind him, Coach Kevin O'Neill speaks to his players in the locker room at halftime.

Up by 9 at the half

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It's halftime at the Galen Center, and the Trojans hold a 32-23 advantage at the break.

Agree to disagree

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Coach Kevin O'Neill and an official engaged in an entertaining -- but awfully brief -- conversation when O'Neill wanted to dispute a non-call on a potential out-of-bounds play by Oregon. This is how it went:

O'Neill: "He stepped out of bounds!"

Referee: "He did not!"

O'Neill: "Yes he did!"

Referee: "Well, I disagree."

And with that, O'Neill and the referee parted ways and the dialogue ended.

Plus and minus

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Holding a 31-19 lead with 3:34 remaining, Coach Kevin O'Neill had some ups and downs to discuss with his team during the final media timeout of the first half.

"If we just take care of the ball, we'll be fine," O'Neill told his players, who have given up six turnovers so far. "Keep defending -- you've done a great job of defending the last four or five minutes."

Huddle up

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Guard Dwight Lewis (right) listens as Coach Kevin O'Neill talks with his team during the recent timeout.

Another timeout

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A flurry of threes -- by both teams, but especially by USC -- has given the Trojans a 25-16 advantage at the under-8 media timeout, with 7:27 remaining in the first period.

Anatomy of a break

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During the recently completed timeout, Coach Kevin O'Neill changed man-on-man defensive assignments, drew up an offensive play and gave encouragement to his players for their hard play, key rebounds and nine-point early lead.

Big early lead

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They already have four turnovers, but the Trojans carry a 19-10 lead into the second media timeout, with 10:16 left in the half.

Roger that

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The Trojans hold a 10-4 lead at the first media timeout, with 14:30 remaining in the first half.

Happy times

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USC took an early 6-0 lead thanks to back-to-back three-pointers by Marcus Johnson, the second of which really excited Coach Kevin O'Neill.

"Get in there!" O'Neill screamed as the ball left Johnson's hand, before bellowing out a hearty "Yeah!" while clapping joyously after the ball swished through the net.

And they're off

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Coach Kevin O'Neill watches on as tonight's USC-Oregon game tips off.

Coach speak

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Just minutes before tipoff, Coach Kevin O'Neill and Oregon coach Ernie Kent came together on the court to shake hands and offer best wishes for the game, as is tradition for opposing coaches.

This meeting had a little extra love, too.

Kent held the handshake longer than usual, telling O'Neill, "Really great job this season."

O'Neill humbly replied, "Thank you."

Before the tip

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In a few quiet moments before the game, the coaches sit together in the locker room lounge.

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Coach Kevin O'Neill addresses his team in the locker room before the game.

Family time

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In the locker room with less than 10 minutes to go until tipoff, Coach Kevin O'Neill's speech to his team centered around, well, the team.

"Lose yourself in the team," O'Neill told his players. "If you want to win championships, you've got to play as one."

The Trojans then came together and bellowed "family" as they broke the huddle and headed out onto the court.

Lucky seat

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Coach Kevin O'Neill watches pre-game warm-ups from the bench, about the only time he'll be seated for the rest of the night. O'Neill paces the court during the game and will only sit in huddles during a timeout and for a few moments at halftime.

On the agenda

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Here's a look at the minute-by-minute schedule for tonight:

7:22 p.m. • National anthem
7:31 p.m. • Warm-ups end
7:32 p.m. • Starting lineups
7:34 p.m. • Team huddle
7:35 p.m. • Tipoff

Getting warm

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Forward Evan Smith goes through warm-ups with about an hour to go until tipoff of tonight's USC-Oregon game at the Galen Center.

Men of gold

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USC will be wearing its gold uniforms tonight against Oregon, the fourth straight home game the Trojans will be in gold. USC has gone 3-1 in those contests.

Ready for game time

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About 90 minutes before tipoff of tonight's USC-Oregon game, Galen Center sits almost entirely empty.

Fun facts

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Here are some interesting stats to know as the Trojans approach tipoff of tonight's game against Oregon at the Galen Center:

  • USC has allowed just 56.4 points per game this season, good for fourth in the country and first in the Pac-10.
  • The Trojans have allowed more than 67 points just twice this season (69 at Texas and 79 at Georgia Tech).
  • USC is the only Pac-10 team with all conference losses by 10 points or less.
  • The Trojans have led or been tied in the second half in all 14 Pac-10 games.
  • USC is 10-1 when it scores 60 or more points.

Game info

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USC (16-10, 8-6) host Oregon (12-14, 4-10) tonight at 7:30 at the Galen Center. The game will be broadcast on 710-AM. Follow along on the Blog for inside info before, during and after the key game for the Trojans, who are just 1.5 games out of first place in the Pac-10.

The Playmakers: Mike Gerrity

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After starting the year 4-4, the Trojans have gone 12-6 with Mike Gerrity in the line-up. He leads the team in minutes per game, and his clutch shots are one of the reasons USC is still in the hunt for the Pac-10 title.

Gerrity took quite the path to becoming a Trojan. He has transferred schools twice, leaving him with less than one full season at USC.

In this week's episode of 'The Playmakers,' Gerrity explains how a desire to compete and help a team be successful drove him to make those tough decisions.

Watch "The Playmakers: Mike Gerrity."

Special coverage tonight

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Be sure to follow the Trojan Fever Basketball Blog tonight for unique all-access coverage leading up to, during and after USC's game against Oregon at the Galen Center (tipoff set for 7:30 p.m.). We'll be taking the same insider coverage you've seen on the RipsIt Blog and bringing it to the this blog for tonight's game, so don't miss out on this special view into the hoops program.

The Playmakers: Jacki Gemelos

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Her USC debut was almost four years in the making. After suffering four knee injuries, Jacki Gemelos is finally wearing Cardinal and Gold. The former high school All-American has played in five games for the Women of Troy, averaging 10 points and 5 rebounds.

In this week's edition of "The Playmakers: Jack Gemelos," hear what it has been like for Jacki to finally be playing college basketball.

Click Here To Watch

Gearing Up for the Final Homestand

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The Trojans competed in a light work out this afternoon in preparation for this weekend's home stand against the Oregon Schools. The team walked through offensive and defensive sets, before sitting down for a short film session. Tip off is tomorrow night at 7:30 against the ducks.

Here are a few pictures from practice:

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By: Josh Moser

Trojan Voices: Marcus Johnson

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Want to see what happens when we hand a microphone to a Trojan player? Check out this week's edition of Trojan Voices with senior forward, Marcus Johnson.

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Trojan Basketball Camp

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The Trojans are heading down the homestretch, but Trojan fans there is always more to come. Head Coach Kevin O'Neill and the rest of the USC Trojans will be hosting a series of basketball camps throughout June and August. Click here for more information on the Trojans summer hoops camps.

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Focusing In

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USC returned to the practice floor today after splitting two games in Washington.  USC currently sits a game and a half back of first-place Cal, with four games remaining on the Pac-10 calendar.

Today in practice, Head Coach Kevin O'Neill stressed the importance of taking care of business at home this week against the Oregon schools. The Trojans lost to both Oregon and Oregon St. during their road trip to the Beaver State; Oregon State and Oregon sit at eighth and tenth in the Pac-10, respectively.

Looking at the big picture, USC is still in the hunt for a Pac-10 season championship. First-place Cal has a tough schedule remaining to close out the season. The Bears will travel  to Arizona this weekend to take on the Wildcats on Thursday and second-place Arizona State on Saturday. The will then close out the season in the Bay Area rivalry game against Stanford, a game that is always up for grabs.

Assuming Cal loses one game, USC will have a chance to play for the regular-season conference championship if they take care of the Oregon schools this week and close out the season strong in Arizona.

Most importantly, the Trojans have something to strive for as this season comes to a close.  There is no ominous feeling in the gym, as would be expected with a team that has a post-season ban looming overhead. Instead, the Trojans are building for next season, and continue to turn heads this season, having lost three players to the first round of the NBA draft, and being selected to finish ninth in the league before the season began.

Here are a few sights from today's lifting session.

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By: Josh Moser

Pictures from the Women's Weekend at Home

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The Women's Basketball Team split their home games this weekend and ended a 5 game losing streak in the process. Check out some great photos of the games vs. Washington State and Washingotn at the Galen Center. All photos are courtesy of Pierson Clair and Jon Kondrath of PC4Photo.

The Pullman Push

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USC tips off against Washington State at 2:30 PM PST. The Trojans are looking for their first sweep on the road this season after taking care of Washington 67-64 on the Thursday.

Watch "The Melt" to relive the Trojans win over Washington

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Click here to relive USC's exciting road win over Washington last night where USC earned their first Pac-10 road win outside of California to move within half a game of conference leader Cal.

Taking Flight

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The USC Trojans competed in a light shoot around today before jumping on a plane to take on the Washington schools this weekend. In just under 30 minutes, the Trojans ran quickly through some offensive sets, before participating in game-simulated shooting drills. The Trojans are coming off of their big win on Valentine's Day against UCLA and are looking to two steal two more wins on the road this weekend.

Here are a few shots from today's practice.

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Washington Preview

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Click here for a full preview of tomorrow nights game in the Apple State.

Vucevic Controlling the Glass

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Sophomore standout forward Nikola Vucevic leads the Pac-10 in rebounds per game, averaging 9.8 boards per contest. Vucevic will be battle tested this weekend, as the Trojans depart for Washington to take on the Huskies tomorrow night and Washington State this Saturday. The super-soph posted a double-double the last time USC faced off against the huskies, pulling down 13 rebounds to go along with 11 points, helping the Trojans to an 87-61 win.

Pac-10 Standings

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Here are the Pac-10 Standings entering into this week's games:

Team                                                                                      Conf.             Pct.                 Overall 

California 9-4 .692 17-8
Arizona State 8-5 .615 18-8
USC 7-5 .583 15-9
Washington 7-6 .538 17-8
Arizona 7-6 .538 13-12
UCLA 6-6 .500 11-13
Oregon State 5-7 .417 11-13
Washington State 5-8 .385 15-10
Stanford 5-8 .385 11-14
Oregon 4-8 .333 12-12


Action Photos From This Weekend vs. UCLA

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Check out these great action photos of the men's and women's games vs. UCLA courtesy of Pierson Clair and Jon Kondrath from PC4Photo.

AP Report

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Click here to read tonight's AP report of USC's 68-64 victory over UCLA.

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Here are a few behind-the-scenes photos from tonight's game.

Notes on a Scorecard

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In honor of longtime Los Angeles sportswriter Alan Malamud, here are tonight's "Notes on a Scorecard". This win marks the first time that the Trojans have beaten the Bruins at the Galen Center, and gives USC a sweep of UCLA on the season.

Heading to the Locker Room

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Stay tuned for a full-wrap up following tonight's game. USC leads 68-63 with 3.0 seconds remaining. Should the Trojans win, this will be their first time beating UCLA at the Galen Center.

Lee Brings the Bruins to Within Five

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Malcolm Lee connects on two of three free-throws after being fouled by Dwight Lewis. Trojans lead 66-61.

UCLA Extending the Game

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Dwight Lewis is fouled with 25.4 seconds remaining and heads to the line for two free-throws. Trojans lead 64-59.

21 has 21

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Dwight Lewis now has 21 points on the night to match his jersey number. His two free-throws put the Trojans up 63-54 with just under one minute remaining. Mike Gerrity now steps to the free-throw line after a made FG by Michael Roll on the other end.

USC Hanging On...

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Leonard Washington lays it in off of a great pass from Mike Gerrity to put the Trojans up 60-52 with just under 1:30 remaining. Hold on to your seats !

Lee Commits Offensive Foul

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Malcolm Lee commits and offensive foul, returning possession to the Trojans. 56-52 USC with 2:30 remaining

Dwight Lewis Back in the Game

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Dwight Lewis replaces Donte Smith in the Trojan line-up. USC has had back-to-back turnovers, but maintain the lead 56-51. Lewis has a game-high 19 points.

UCLA Calls Timeout 6:10 Remaining

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Full-court pressure by the Trojans caught the Bruins off-balance. A steal by Leonard Washington on the defensive end lead to a Nikola Vucevic layup with Washington also getting the assist. USC leads 56-47. 

Under 8:00 Timeout

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The Trojans lead 52-47. Head Coach Kevin O'Neill pleaded to his players to keep their energy up. " We must play hard down the stretch and control the tempo." " We need to win the next four minutes and then we'll go from there."

Lewis Putting the Trojans on his Back

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Another 3-pointer by Dwight Lewis puts the Trojans back up four, 45-41, with just over 11:30 remaining in the game. The senior now has 17 points on the night, including nine from three-point land.

Rebounding Woes

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The Bruins have out rebounded the Trojans 23-16 thus far this game. At the half, Head Coach Kevin O'Neill keyed in on this point. He said they must do a better job on the glass to come away with a victory down the stretch. USC had a +13 rebounding advantage over the Bruins in their last contest on January 16. USC won that game 67-46.

Bringing You Up to Speed in the Second Half

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Both teams are deadlocked at 38 with just under 15 minutes remaining in the game.

Shooting Around

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USC just completed their shoot around for the game tonight. The team is focused and looking to get their first win at Galen Center against their cross town rival. Check out a couple shots from shoot around as they continued preparation for the big game tonight

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Tip off is at 7pm and can be watched on Prime Ticket. There are still a limited amount of tickets available at www.usctrojans.com.

Game Notes

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Take a look at today's game notes before tonight's game. It contains insider statistics on everything from UCLA's last loss to the sophomore surge of USC's standout post player, Nikola Vucevic.

The Rivalry is Upon Us

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The game tips at 7:00 PM PST. Stay tuned for the latest from the Trojan bench. USC has not beaten UCLA at the Galen Center (0-3), and are looking to change that history, tonight. UCLA forward, James Keefe remains a game-time decision after suffering a shoulder injury during Friday's practice. The Trojans defeated the Bruins 67-46, at their last meeting on January 16th.

Focused In

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The Trojans returned to the practice floor today in preparation for Sunday's game against UCLA. USC has not beaten the Bruins in the Galen Center which has provided much inspiration for the Trojans throughout the week.

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The team ran through their offensive and defensive sets before completing fifteen minutes of game-speed shooting. set.JPG dwight.JPG

Hard-nosed five-on-five play ensued, with Head Coach Kevin O'Neill pointing out changes and modifications needing to be made. coach-mike.JPG

Practice closed with a cool-down and free-throw shooting. The Men of Troy will be back on the floor tomorrow at 1:00 PM PST.

By: Josh Moser

USC Classics: USC vs. UCLA 2006

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USC has had some memorable victories over UCLA recently: 2007 upset at Pauley Pavilion, 2009 Pac-10 Tournament Semi-Finals Victory and the 2010 21-Point Win at Pauley.

But the Trojans are still winless at the Galen Center against the Bruins. Their last home victory against UCLA came in the final match-up between the rivals at the LA Sports Arena.

Relive the highlights from USC's 71-68 2006 win over #15 UCLA in this edition of USC Classics: USC vs. UCLA 2006.

For Trojan All-Access Subscribers Only.

Up, Up, and Away

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Excited for the NBA dunk contest tomorrow night? Be sure to check out rookie sensation, and former USC Trojan, Demar DeRozan take flight against the rest of the competition. The high flying aerialist from Compton, will have to dunk his way into the competition tonight against the Clippers, Eric Gordon. The "Dunk-In" will take place tonight during halftime of the rookie challenge. The winner will advance to dunk against Shannon Brown of the Lakers, Gerald Wallace of the Bobcats, and the two-time dunk contest winner, Nate Robinson of the Knicks tomorrow evening.

DeRozan electrified Trojan fans last season at the Galen Center and has continued to do so as a member of the Toronto Raptors. DeRozan has started every game this season for Toronto and is averaging more than eight points per game in nearly twenty-one minutes of action on the floor per contest. Look for DeRozan to galvanize the crowd in front of judges Lebron James, and recording artist, Drake. All-Star weekend kicks off tonight at 4 PM PST with the celebrity game, with DeRozan in the "Dunk-In" around 7 PM PST.

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Trojan Voices: Mike Gerrity

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'Trojan Voices' is the newest of USCTrojans.com's many video features, this bi-weekly feature showcases one of USC's many talented athletes in a quick, first-person testimonial about what has made their Trojan experience special.

This week check out what Mike Gerrity has to say about his long journey to becoming a Trojan:

ESPN's Andy Katz on USC

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Check out this article written by Andy Katz that appeared on [ESPN.com](http://espn.com). Katz discusses his outlook on the Trojans this season,as well as the circumstances surrounding graduate manager Stan Holt, and where he thinks USC will head in the future behind the leadership of Head Coach, Kevin O'Neill.

The Trojans Get a Special Visitor at Practice

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A few months ago, USC Head Coach Kevin O'Neill received an email. After reading its contents, his immediate thought was to extend a helping hand to a person with an incredible story and to a person that had given so much and gotten little in return.

Coach O'Neill took it upon himself to respond to this email and in turn change the life of this man, while reminding his players of how lucky and gifted they are to be playing college basketball. Some, as they would soon find out, would not be able to get the same chance that they did.

In the middle of August, Coach O'Neill answered the call, and a man walked into the gym standing about six-foot-six inches tall. The players did not know who he was, but within minutes, it was if he had been there all along.

For more than a week, this man became part of the team, helping in every player's individual workouts. He offered not only basketball advice, but many life lessons that have stuck with the Trojan players, even to this day.

He told the team his name, and that he too like them, wanted to be a college basketball player. Recruited out of San Diego county, he starred at Helix high school, receiving notable attention from college programs. Instead, he went straight into the draft-- the military draft.

Touring in Bagdad, Iraq, in now his second year in the Army, an RPG struck his Humvee. And then another went sailing past the window, only to have a third shot strike the vehicle on its left side. When the dust cleared, his left arm was in shambles from the elbow down to his wrist. An AK-47 bullet also sat sunken into his upper-arm just below his shoulder. He was alive, but called it the scariest day of his life.

He said that he was blessed that day to survive, and after returning home after successfully serving his country, it was time to get a former love of his life back into his daily routine, basketball.

Without ever meeting the man, Head Coach Kevin O'Neill said, "it was a no brainer." Explained in the email was this man's love of basketball and that he had aspirations of becoming a division-one basketball coach.

"I am so thankful that Coach O'Neill reached out to me," he said. "The funny thing is, my coaching style would be exactly like his. He coaches just like they way I led my troops in the Army."

Retiring with the rank of Staff Sergeant, this man had had his leadership tested in the army, and now it was time for it to be tested on the basketball court. Head Coach Kevin O'Neill quickly relinquished the reins, and he said he couldn't have been happier.

Calls of "Coach Lorenzo" could be heard throughout the gym, and today, Coach Lorenzo Nathan, walked back into the gym and gave something very special back to the team that have given him so much.

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Mr. Nathan presented Head Coach Kevin O'Neill and the team with a plaque commemorating his service to the military, wanting to share with them a part of him, after they had shared so much of themselves to a man they now call part of the team, and a member of the Trojan Family.

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By: Josh Moser

And The Oscar Goes To...

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The nominees for the 82nd Academy Awards were recently released to the masses. However, the list lacked an important category and its accompanying nominees.

The category of Best Supporting Cast has been largely ignored by the esteemed panel of Academy Award voters, for reasons beyond the scope of this blog. Recent events, however, have revived the category for greater inspection as the nominees for this reward are released, as well as the list of nominees for the award of Best Supporting Cast on a Collegiate Team.

Stefanie Gilbreath of the Women of Troy's Injured Squad, by way of Katy, Texas, could give Dick Vitale a run for his money for the Best Sideline Analysis award. As a virtual fifth coach with constant words of encouragement on the bench, Stef's leadership, even during the most turbulent times in her recovery, has been unshakeable. Days after her latest ACL injury, Gilbreath rocked her ACL surgery scar for the players to see in late September, and the sight of Gilbreath sitting in the sidelines of practice with her knee secured and locked in a clunky leg brace uplifted the practice.

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Michelle Jenkins' demeanor is as vibrant as her blonde hair. Her character alone can fill and uplift a room, as she sits on a sideline seat during practice, while twirling her hair on her index finger. In late December, on the day of Michelle's ACL surgery, the mood at practice was tension-filled, and the Women of Troy were subdued. As soon as news was received of Michelle's successful surgical procedure, as related by a text message from the operating doctor to a trainer's cell phone, the relief was palpable.

In contrast, Vicky Tagalicod's demeanor is inscrutable. However, the ball that is always in her grip is an indication of this player's love of the game. When a Women of Troy player glances at the sidelines during a water break, Vicky can be seen dribbling the ball between her legs. Or the ball will be swirling through the air as Vicky practices putting her "hand in the basket," a phrase coach Ervin Monier uses to describe the bent wrist of a basketball player's shot.

As a recent graduate of the Injured Squad cast, Jacki Gemelos has certainly already put in her award-winning efforts as a supporting cast member. Jacki is the Women of Troy's biggest inspiration. Her story could be tragic, if she weren't so strong, so courageous, and so determined. How could the Women of Troy not be inspired by their teammate? When other players would have quit, or been despondent at being away from the game so long, Jacki has been relentless in her support of her team and in her determination to join them on the floor.

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These players are not just an entourage that follows the Women of Troy. They are the backbone of the team; the cast of people the players lean on even on their good days. With that said, give them the Emmy, give them the ESPY. The Women of Troy give them their gratitude.

Love

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Among the Women of Troy, tears are not acceptable. Not only are they a sign of weakness, but quite frankly, it isn't very ladylike. Composure, poise and pride are instilled among the players, even during practice. However, it was excusable on Thursday, Feb. 4, as the Women of Troy faced the California Bears in Berkeley. The tears were unabashedly shed in response to the announcement that Number 23 would be entering the game. That number has been waiting proudly on the game uniform of Jacki Gemelos, formerly of the Women of Troy's "Injured Squad."

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Current Injured Squad member Stefanie Gilbreath instructed Gemelos not to glance at the USC bench as she took the floor because of the likelihood of tears in Stef's eyes. They were the tears of a injured player so proud and overwhelmed with joy at seeing her rehab partner recover from years of ACL injuries to finally play for the Women of Troy after a four-year hiatus. It was more than sportsmanship. It was love. Pure love for the player who recovered from such devastating injuries from one of the few players on the team who could understand the pain, time, and emotional upheaval recovery can be. Welcome back, Jacki!

Relive USC's Victory over Stanford with "The Melt"

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Did you miss USC's 54-49 win over Stanford on Saturday? Did you watch it on TV or catch it on 710 ESPN Radio? Or were you there and want to relive the exciting victory? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should check out "The Melt", a combination of great video highlights from the game with USC's very own radio broadcast team calling the plays. Click here to watch it now!

Powerful approach

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Mike Robbins, a motivational speaker and former Stanford baseball player, talks to USC student-athletes in the Galen Center Founders Room this afternoon as part of the athletic department's P.O.W.E.R. program, a twice-yearly series designed to develop the athletes beyond their sports -- mentally, socially, academically, emotionally and in terms of life skills. The program, run by the USC athletic department's Student-Athlete Academic Services, stands for "Promoting Overall Wellness, Excellence and Responsibility."

Rivalry renewed

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With the arena's LED signboards already portending the future -- USC vs. UCLA on Sunday night -- the Trojans wrap up their Monday practice at the Galen Center this afternoon. The crosstown rivalry picks up with a game on USC's floor, to be televised on FSN starting at 7 p.m. Sunday.  A limited number of tickets are still available here.

Rack 'Em Up

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The Trojans were back to work today getting ready for Sunday's much anticipated rivalry game against UCLA. Both teams sit at 6-5 in conference play heading into the week. The Trojans resumed practice with a light shootaround followed by a heavy lifting session. USC will be back on the court tomorrow for a full two hour practice in preparation for the Bruins this Sunday.

Here are a few pictures from today's workout.

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By:Josh Moser

Going to the film

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It was time for a lunchtime review at the Galen Center today.

Coaches Kevin O'Neill and Michael Cooper addressed the crowd of about 75 fans in the Founders Room for today's Chalk Talk, discussing the past weekend's games and also looking ahead to their respective matchups against UCLA this coming weekend. O'Neill went through game film of the recent California and Stanford wins, as well.

"I thought our guys did a really great job of executing down the stretch," O'Neill told the fans. "We're getting better. Our guys are maturing a lot."

Only one Chalk Talk remains in the 2009-10 season, on March 1 in the Galen Center Founders Room. Lunch begins at 11:30 a.m. and the coaches will speak starting at noon. Walk-ups are accepted for $40 per person.

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Men's basketball coach Kevin O'Neill goes through film from Thursday's USC-Cal game during today's Chalk Talk at the Galen Center.

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Women's basketball coach Michael Cooper speaks to the fans at today's Chalk Talk at the Galen Center.

Photo Finish

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Take a look at the live-action shots taken during Thursday and Saturday night's wins over Cal & Stanford. All photos were taken by USC Athletics staff photographer Pierson Clair.

Pac-10 at a Glance

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Here are the Pac-10 standings through February 7th:

Team Conf. Pct. Overall Pct.
California 7-4 .636 15-8 .652
Washington 6-5 .545 16-7 .696
Arizona State 6-5 .545 16-8 .667
USC 6-5 .545 14-9 .609
Arizona 6-5 .545 12-11 .522
UCLA 6-5 .545 11-12 .478
Washington State 5-5 .500 15-8 .652
Oregon 4-6 .400 12-10 .545
Oregon State 4-6 .400 10-12 .454
Stanford 4-7 .364 10-13 .435

Want Just a Snippet?

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If you are pressed for time, here is a quick recap of the action from the Stanford game this weekend courtesy of USCTrojans.com's, Rob McPherson. In less than two minutes, you will be caught up on everything you missed from Saturday, or be able to refresh yourself on the Trojans 59-54 victory over the Cardinal.

Melting Away the Competition

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Here is this week's edition of "The Melt", highlighting all of the top plays from Thursday's win over Pac-10 leader Cal. Take a look...

Coach's Corner

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Click here for an inside view of the post-game press conference from Saturday's game. USC Head Coach, Kevin O'Neill discusses the ins and outs of the match-up against Stanford, and also comments on the bright future ahead for the "super-soph," Nikola Vucevic.

Take A Second Look

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In case you missed Saturday's game or would like to take a look back at the action, click here to check out the Trojans 59-54 victory over Stanford.

AP Report

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Click here for the full version write-up of tonight's game done by the Associated Press.

Behind-The-Scenes Slideshow

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By:Josh Moser

Hot off the Presser

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Notes from Head Coach Kevin O'Neill during the post-game press conference.
On Leonard Washington's performance : "He's been great (coming off of the bench)." "He really helped us today."
On Nikola Vucevic: "We are only going to see him get better."
Check back on Monday to watch the full post-game press conference on Trojans All-Access.

USC By the Numbers

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Scoring:   Vucevic-18, Gerrity 11, Johnson 9, Washington 9, Lewis 4, Stepheson 2, Simmons 1.
Rebounds: Vucevic 14, Johnson 6, Washington 6, Stepheson 5, Lewis 4, Gerrity 2.
Assists: Johnson 3, Gerrity 2, Stepheson 1, Vucevic 1.
Blocks: Stepheson 3, Vucevic 2, Simmons 2, Johnson 1, Washington 1, Gerrity 1.

Team Shooting 21-55 (38.2%)
Free-Throws 10-17 (58.8)

Lewis Seals the Deal

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Dwight Lewis connects on two free-throws to seal the win for the Trojans. USC wins 54-49. Stay tuned for highlights from the post-game press conference.

Got 'Em Both

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Marcus Johnson connects on both free-throw attempts. USC leads 52-49. Hang on to your seats....

USC Holds

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Stanford's Green gets off a jumper, but Marcus Johnson comes down with the rebound for USC. Johnson was immediately fouled and approaches the foul line for a one-and-one with 7.4 seconds remaining. USC leads 50-49.

Vucevic Tips in for Two

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Nikola Vucevic tips in a Marcus Johnson miss to put the Trojans back up by one, 50-49 with 26 seconds remaining. Stanford has two remaining timeouts, USC has one. 

Stanford Up One

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A three-pointer by Jeremy Green gives the Cardinal a one-point lead 49-48 under the two minute mark. USC calls timeout down one with 55 seconds remaining.

Stanford Calls Timeout

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Stanford calls a quick 30 second timeout with just under 2:30 remaining in the game. The Trojans lead by two, after a great drive and finish by Mike Gerrity. He now joins Vucevic in double figures with 11 points.

Defense Defense Defense

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During the under four minute timeout, Head Coach Kevin O'Neill preached defense. "If we get stops, we will win the game," he said. The game remains tied at 46 with  just under three minutes remaining.

Tie Game

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A Nikola Vucevic lay up ties the game at 46 with just over 3:30 remaining in the game. Vucevic leads USC in scoring with 16 points.

Vucevic Breaks USC Scoring Drought

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Sophomore forward Nikola Vucevic puts in the Trojans first field goal in over four minutes off of a missed free-throw attempt by Marcus Johnson. Trojans trail 44-42 with five minutes remaining.

Needing a Pacemaker

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USC Head Coach Kevin O'Neill told the Trojans during the under eight minute media timeout, " We are getting away from what we do best. Just slow down and take good shots." The Trojans trail 42-40 with 7:43 remaining in the contest

Deadlocked at 40

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USC and Stanford are deadlocked at 40-40 at the 9:00 minute mark in the second half.

Tip Off Just Minutes Away!

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The Trojans just came out of the locker-room seemingly poised for victory. The coaching staff emphasized the necessity of playing to their potential and not giving anything to the Cardinal here on their home floor, at the Galen Center. USC is looking to make it two in a row for the first time this season since rattling off their eight game winning streak during the winter recess and the first few games of conference play.

Stay tuned for more from the Trojan bench throughout the game.

More Practice

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In between games during the Bay Area home-stand, the Trojans got back to business Friday afternoon going through shooting drills, walkthroughs, and a short film session before participating in individual workouts in preparation for tomorrow's game against Stanford.

"Tomorrow's game is a must win," said USC Head Coach Kevin O'Neill.

O'Neill also mentioned that USC has beaten everyone ranked above them in the Pac-10 and have lost all of their conference games to teams at the bottom of the league, which brought a moment of clarity to the players who all just nodded their heads.

Tip off against Stanford is tomorrow at 4:30 PM PST. Stay tuned for a full preview before tomorrow's contest against the Cardinal.

Here are a few pictures from today's practice.

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USC Coaches huddle for a discussion during practice

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Junior guard, Donte Smith banks six three-pointers in a row to win the shooting challenge between the guards during practice

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Assistant Coach, Phil Johnson walking the team through set plays.

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By: Josh Moser

Reliving the game: USC 66, Cal 63

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Check out this special insider photo album from tonight's 66-63 win over Cal, brought to you by staffer Josh Moser:


Photos by Josh Moser

Notable numbers

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Here are the key stats from tonight's 66-63 win over Cal:

  • USC went on a 25-0 run that covered 10:48 and crossed over the halftime break.
  • Four Trojans scored in double digits -- Dwight Lewis (13), Mike Gerrity (12), Nikola Vucevic (10) and Alex Stepheson (10).
  • Gerrity made 3-of-4 three-pointers.
  • Nikola Vucevic had a game-high 10 rebounds.
  • Attendance: 7,412

Read up

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Check out the AP recap of USC's 66-63 over Cal tonight at the Galen Center.

Meet the press

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Here are some highlights from Coach Kevin O'Neill's postgame press conference:

  • "I'm obviously extremely proud of our team."
  • "I thought we played as hard as I've seen any group in a long time."
  • "We're excited we got that win. Hopefully we keep it going on Saturday."
  • "It was a heck of a win for us, it really was."

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Coach Kevin O'Neill speaks to the media following the game.

Come together

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In the locker room following their win, the Trojans gather together for a final huddle.

Happy days

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Hugs, smiles and joy were in abundance in the locker room following the Trojans' memorable 66-63 victory over California on Thursday night.

"That's a great, great job of execution," Coach Kevin O'Neill told his players. "But we waste this if we don't get these guys on Saturday."

Trojans win!

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Thanks to an incredible 25-0 run and a fantastic finishing push, the Trojans grabbed a 66-63 win over Cal at the Galen Center tonight. We'll be back in a few with more from the locker room.

Foul play

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During the recent timeout, Coach Kevin O'Neill just instructed his players to foul, as the Trojans hold a three-point lead with 8.9 seconds remaining and Cal in a one-and-one situation.

Waning moments

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An enthralling game will now be a battle of free throws.

Forward Nikola Vucevic just made two with 8.9 second left and the Trojans now have a 64-61 lead.

Closing time

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Mike Gerrity hit another three -- this one a desperation deep ball as the shot clock expired -- but Cal responded with a three of its own. USC is up, 62-60, with 42.1 seconds left and will have the ball after the timeout.

Up by 2

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Behind a huge three-pointer by Mike Gerrity, the Trojans have a 59-57 lead and the ball with 1:17 remaining. USC just took a timeout to draw up a play.

Zebra watching

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Guard Mike Gerrity watches on closely as the officials review a three-point call late in the second half.

Speaking the truth

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During the last media timeout of the game, Coach Kevin O'Neill had a Yogi Berra moment as he urged his players on to the finish line.

"We're going to win the game if we get stops," O'Neill said, his team trailing by one with 3:35 left. "We're not going to win the game if we don't get stops."

The final media timeout

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The game has turned into a back-and-forth dogfight, as the Trojans now trail 55-54 with 3:35 left in the game at the final media timeout. 

Fighting on

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With about five minutes remaining, Kevin O'Neill had a few moments to spend with his players as officials checked a replay, and he encouraged his players to finish hard.

"Do not give in," a passionate O'Neill said. "We've worked too hard."

Huddle up

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The Trojans take in the adjustments from Coach Kevin O'Neill in a mid-court huddle during a media timeout.

Leading by 6

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The Trojans continue to hang tough and play hard as they take a 50-44 lead over Cal into the second-to-last media timeout, with 7:03 remaining in the game. 

Mid-game coaching

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Kevin O'Neill calls out instructions to guard Mike Gerrity (44) during a Cal free throw.

Up by 6

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Dwight Lewis just rejected an alley-oop attempt, and the Trojans have a 46-40 lead with 11:28 left in the game.

"We don't need to play pickup basketball," Kevin O'Neill said during the media timeout. "Control your emotions. We've got to win the next four minutes."

Facts on the 25-0 run

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The Trojans' 25-0 run occurred over 11 minutes of game clock, spanning the halftime break while USC saw its 13-point deficit turn into a 12-point lead. Cal went almost 40 minutes of real time without scoring a point.

Cal closing the gap

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USC's stunning run ended at 25-0, as Cal sank a three-pointer with less than 16 minutes left. The Bears followed that with a stop and another three, so the Trojan lead is just six at 42-36.

Up by 12 now

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The uninterrupted Trojan scoring streak has reached 25 straight points, and Cal has taken another timeout, this one with 16:18 remaining in the game and USC leading, 42-30.

"Yes!" Kevin O'Neill just screamed while clapping as Cal called the timeout.

Happy times

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The mood on the USC bench and in the huddle during timeouts has turned from gloom to glee. A current 23-0 run can do that to you.

Coach Kevin O'Neill's instructions have become much more buoyant and the Trojan players are playing with a renewed zest. Marcus Johnson just made a free throw on an and-one to push the USC lead to 40-30.

Trojans take the lead

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The Trojans have been on an impressive 17-0 run to take a 34-30 lead, so Cal has taken a timeout to attempt to stop the bleeding.

From the locker room at half

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Here are some images from the locker room at halftime, with the Trojans trailing, 30-27:

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Kevin O'Neill and his assistants review the stats at halftime.

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The players listen to Kevin O'Neill's halftime instructions.

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The Trojans come together in the locker room at the end of the halftime break.

Live and let loose

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With his team riding a 10-0 run into the halftime intermission, Coach Kevin O'Neill wanted his team to let loose and simply compete in the second half.

"Just play!" O'Neill told his players in the locker room at halftime. "No matter what, just play and I guarantee you'll like the result."

USC down by 3 at half

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The Trojans made a strong push in the final few minutes of the half, closing the gap to just three. The teams just headed into the locker room, with Cal leading, 30-27, at the break.

Losing by 12

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The final media timeout of the half, with 3:58 remaining, has just been called. The Trojans are down, 30-18.

Taking a timeout

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Coach Kevin O'Neill talks to his team during a timeout.

Behind by 10

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The Trojans trail, 27-17, at the third media timeout.

"Let's play with some reckless abandon down here," O'Neill told his players while pointing to the Cal offense's end of the court.

Sending a message

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Kevin O'Neill slammed his fist on the scorer's table as he watched California score following a lackluster defensive effort by his team.

Fortunately for him, a media timeout followed shortly thereafter, giving the head coach a chance to speak with his players with the score at 20-17.

"Guard your man!" an aggravated O'Neill kept repeating. "Everything is too easy for them right now."

Down just 3

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We've got the second media timeout of the game, and the Trojans have made a mini run. USC trails by just three at 20-17 with 11:32 remaining in the opening frame.

Down by 7

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Kevin O'Neill takes another timeout with 13:47 and his team down, 12-5.

First timeout

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The Trojans trail, 10-5, at the first media timeout, with 14:43 left in the half.

"Play with energy and move the ball!" Coach Kevin O'Neill told his players at the break. "We've got to play with energy!"

Early deficit

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USC takes an early timeout, down 7-2 with 16:51 left in the first half.

Put your foots down

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Coach Kevin O'Neill was brief and to-the-point in his pre-game speech.

"We've got to take a stand and say we're not going to lose anymore," O'Neill told his players in the locker room with just a few minutes to go until tipoff.

Get pumped

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The Trojans come together to chant and jump around in the tunnel just before taking the court for tonight's game against Cal.

Almost game time

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The Trojans are heading back into the locker room for the final time before tipoff. They'll return to the court in a few minutes for introductions prior to tonight's game against Cal.

Dunk show

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The NBA Dunk Contest isn't for another nine days, but a few Trojans did their best imitation tonight during warm-ups.

Dwight Lewis, Evan Smith, Alex Stepheson and Davis Rozitis competed in a lighthearted dunk contest in a few spare minutes during pre-game warm-ups. Wild off-the-shot-clock attempts and tomahawk tries all failed before Lewis' windmill dunk appeared to be the unofficial winner.

From the locker room before the game

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Check out some photos from the pre-game locker room scene prior to warm-ups:

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Legendary former head coach Bob Boyd chats with assistant coach Phil Johnson in the team lounge prior to the game.

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Assistant coach Phil Johnson speaks to the players.

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Coach Kevin O'Neill goes over his keys to the game in the locker room.

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The Trojans circle up and pray in the locker room prior to warm-ups.

Pre-game chatter

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Coach Kevin O'Neill's pregame locker room address focused on bringing "force, energy, passion and emotion" to tonight's game against California.

"It's a nine game season -- we know it," O'Neill told his players. "We've got to play with our hearts on our sleeves, and that's not just coach talk. It's what we need to do, and we need to start tonight.

"If you say 'if,' you didn't get the job done."

Getting warm

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Guard Donte Smith goes through dribbling warm-ups in a mostly empty Galen Center about an hour before tipoff of tonight's USC-Cal game.

Golden nugget

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The Trojans will be wearing their gold uniforms tonight against California.

Game night

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USC and California are less than an hour from tipoff at the Galen Center, with both teams on the court warming up. The game, to be broadcast on 710-AM, will get going at 7:35 p.m.

Come along for the ride

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Tonight's USC-California men's basketball game won't be televised, but you can still feel like you're in the stands at the Galen Center.

Or maybe even a little closer.

Follow along through the Trojan Fever Basketball Blog starting before tonight's 7:30 p.m. tipoff through the end of the matchup. We'll bring to the basketball blog the same style of coverage you've seen on USCRipsIt, so be sure to tune in for this exclusive, entertaining and behind-the-scenes look into the Trojan hoops team for its game tonight against Pac-10 rival Cal.

Coach O'Neill Reinstates Graduate Manager

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USC men's basketball coach Kevin O'Neill reinstated graduate manager Stan Holt to the team today. Holt was dismissed from the team after receiving a technical foul during last Saturday's game at Oregon. Below are statements from both Kevin and Stan.

STATEMENT FROM USC MEN'S BASKETBALL COACH KEVIN O'NEILL (2-4-10):

"I approached Stan Holt about coming back and finishing the season with us.

"He made a mistake and it was a costly one. Although I did not hear what was said, I realize he was trying to support our team and that he cares a lot about our team. But Stan understands that he was out of line.

"Everyone deserves a second chance and I'm willing to give him that second chance. He's been a loyal Trojan and he only wants the best for our team. I think this can be a valuable lesson for him."

STATEMENT FROM USC MEN'S BASKETBALL GRADUATE MANAGER STAN HOLT (2-4-10):

"I would like to apologize to the University of Southern California, my alma mater, as well as to the coaching staff, the players and the fans for the situation that occurred at Saturday night's USC-Oregon men's basketball game.

"My comments were out of place and my behavior did not help our team as we tried to win a close game on the road. However, I want to be very clear on this point: Contrary to what has been reported, I did not use profanity with the officials.

"Coach O'Neill has allowed me to rejoin the basketball staff and I am grateful for the opportunity. I am passionate about the University of Southern California, the Trojan basketball program and about winning.

"I would like to genuinely thank the Trojan Family for their support and words of encouragement.

"I will move on from this learning experience a stronger person and I will continue to work hard and remain loyal, devoted and passionate in all that I do."

The Trojans Looked Poised For Victory

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After a great practice yesterday, The USC Trojans were back on the court this afternoon going through shooting drills and offensive and defensive sets in preparation for tomorrow night's game against California. The team looked very sharp during shooting drills and closed the practice with a film session. Tip off is tomorrow night at 7:30 PM PST.

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Football Signing Day

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Be sure to check out USCTrojans.com for the latest from today's news from Signing Day.

Dwight Lewis Set to Make USC History

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It seems like an eternity ago since Dwight Lewis first dawned the Cardinal and Gold uniform with "USC" written across his chest, and now in tomorrow's contest against California, the senior forward from Louisiana, will become USC's all-time leader in games played in Trojan Basketball history.

Since finishing his high school playing career in Texas, after Hurricane Katrina, Lewis has become a staple of the Trojan program. He currently ranks 10th in career 3-pointers made and is quickly climbing into the top ten of USC's all-time scoring column. However, for Lewis, it is not about the scoring figures, its about getting better everyday and trying to advance to the next level, while helping the younger players along the way.

In tomorrow night's contest, Lewis will pass the now, FSN color commentator, Brandon Granville, as the player to play the most games in a Trojan uniform. Granville had an illustrious career at USC, as a rare four-year starter at the point-guard position. The former Westchester High standout, holds the USC record for career assists and ranks in the top five all-time in steals, assists, and 3-pointers.

The Trojans are currently sitting at 4-5 entering tomorrow night's game against California tied with five other teams in the Pac-10. Look for Lewis to lead the way and stay tuned for updates from today's practice.

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By:Josh Moser

Dwight Lewis Set to Make USC History

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It seems like an eternity ago since Dwight Lewis first dawned the Cardinal and Gold uniform with "USC" written across his chest, and now in tomorrow's contest against California, the senior forward from Louisiana, will become USC's all-time leader in games played in Trojan Basketball history.

Since finishing his high school playing career in Texas, after Hurricane Katrina, Lewis has become a staple of the Trojan program. He currently ranks 10th in career 3-pointers made and is quickly climbing into the top ten of USC's all-time scoring column. However, for Lewis, it is not about the scoring figures, its about getting better everyday and trying to advance to the next level, while helping the younger players along the way.

In tomorrow night's contest, Lewis will pass the now, FSN color commentator, Brandon Granville, as the player to play the most games in a Trojan uniform. Granville had an illustrious career at USC, as a rare four-year starter at the point-guard position. The former Westchester High standout, holds the USC record for career assists and ranks in the top five all-time in steals, assists, and 3-pointers.

The Trojans are currently sitting at 4-5 entering tomorrow night's game against California tied with five other teams in the Pac-10. Look for Lewis to lead the way and stay tuned for updates from today's practice.

Tuesday's Practice

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USC was back to practice today in preparation for Thursday's game against first-place California. The Trojans are looking to get back on track in now the second half of the Pac-10 season. USC dropped their last two games against the Oregon schools last week, and now sit at 4-5 in conference play.

Head Coach Kevin O'Neill has stressed the importance of winning home games all season, and this week is no exception. Special emphasis has been placed on handling this week with a "business-like" approach, and getting down to business is exactly what the Trojans need to do. The last time these schools faced off, USC held a seven point lead, 50-43, with under ten minutes in the second half before having it evaporate right before their eyes in less than a three minute stretch. This time around there can be no let down.

"We have to play every play as if it's the last play we will ever play," said Head Coach Kevin O'Neill.

The Trojans currently rank fourth in the NCAA in points allowed per game at 56.0 points per contest, and they look to continue this trend by playing their clamp-down man-to-man defense against the electrifying Jerome Randle and the rest of the Cal Bears.

Check below for a few pictures from today's practice.

Head Coach Kevin O'Neill addressing team .JPG Donte Double Team.JPG Head Coach Kevin O'Neill looking on.JPG Team Huddle.JPG

By: Josh Moser

NBA Update: Taj Gibson

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This past week in the NBA, former Trojan standout Taj Gibson has helped the Bulls rack up five straight victories, while averaging close to a double-double, pulling down 10.4 rebounds per game to go along with 8.4 points per game. The single-season record holder for blocked shots at USC averaged 2.0 blocks per game over his last five professional contests, including two three block performances against the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs --almost double his season average (1.04 bpg). Gibson was the 26th overall pick of the 2009 NBA draft, and has earned a prominent role on the Bulls roster, averaging close to twenty-five minutes per game. "TG" will be in action again Tuesday night against the Clippers.

Daily Trojan reporter, Seth Rubinroit, also had a chance to catch up with Taj Gibson this past week. Take a look...

He might be playing professional basketball about 2,000 miles from his old college stomping grounds, but, at heart Chicago Bulls rookie Taj Gibson is still very much a USC Trojan.

Surprise success · Former Trojan Taj Gibson, pictured here last year against California, was selected 26th overall by the Bulls in the 2009 NBA draft with few expectations. Gibson has surprised critics and played well. - Daily Trojan file photo "I miss going to class, meeting new people everyday and the games at the Galen Center," Gibson said before a recent game against the Los Angeles Clippers. "I miss it a lot." Gibson still carries a backpack, but, instead of holding school supplies, the bright pink backpack Gibson is forced to wear by his teammates as a form of NBA rookie initiation is designed to serve as a constant reminder that he is merely a first-year player.

Gibson might only be a rookie, but he is not playing like one. He has started the majority of the Bulls' games and is ranked second among NBA rookies in rebounds per game. He was also selected to play in the annual T-Mobile Rookie Challenge Game during All-Star Weekend.

"Taj really brings energy," Bulls point guard Derrick Rose said. "He is someone who plays hard, gets rebounds and knows how to score."

Part of the reason Gibson has been able to have such an immediate impact in the NBA is because he played for three years at USC under coach Tim Floyd, who was a head coach in the NBA for the Chicago Bulls and New Orleans Hornets.

"Going to USC got me mentally and physically prepared. [Coach Tim Floyd] taught me a lot about the NBA style of play," Gibson said. "It is a big adjustment. You have to play against different guys, pay attention to details and take care of your body."

When the Bulls drafted Gibson with the 26th pick in the first round of the 2009 NBA draft, Gibson left behind an extensive legacy at USC. He helped the Trojans achieve school records with three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and 20-win seasons. Gibson was the 2009 Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year. He finished his career as USC's all-time leader in blocked shots and second on USC's all-time rebounding list.

"[Gibson] was a [three] year player at USC, which helped his maturity coming into the league," Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said. "He is a great kid. He is always bringing effort. He will make a number of mistakes because he is young, but it is not for a lack of effort or intensity."

USC's streak of three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances will end this season as a result of self-imposed sanctions, stemming from NCAA rule violations involving Gibson's former USC teammate, O.J. Mayo.

"I was kind of pissed," Gibson said about his reaction to the sanctions. "I was really upset because half of the guys there this year did not have anything to do with that. There are a bunch of new guys. I felt especially bad for the seniors."

When Gibson has been in town to play against the Los Angeles Lakers or Clippers, he has gone to the Galen Center to see his former teammates.

"I saw them on campus the other day," Gibson said. "They are still keeping their heads high, trying to win the Pac-10. The team is good. They have a bunch of good players that will have a bright future in the NBA. It is a shame that, when everybody finally got healthy, they announced the sanctions."

The post positions have been an area of strength for this year's Trojans, largely because of the experience that the players gained from competing with Gibson in practice last season.

"Practicing against Taj helped me a lot," USC forward Nikola Vucevic said. "In the beginning, when I was guarding him, there was not a lot I could do to stop him. He is a great player, and he is strong. Over time, I was able to stop him a little more. We used to play one-on-one during practice, and he would play hard, push me and foul me. It really helped me improve."

Anyone who believed distance is weakening the bond between Gibson and USC would be mistaken.

"I am really looking forward to football season and seeing what [coach Lane] Kiffin is going to do," Gibson said.

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