USC Opens Pac-12 Play Thursday Hosting Stanford
Jan. 2, 2013
USC (5-8) will host Stanford (9-4) at the Galen Center on Jan. 3 at 7 p.m. to begin Pac-12 Conference play. The Trojans are 2-2 in their last four games and are seeking just their second two-game winning streak of the season.
BREAKING DOWN THE CARDINAL -- Stanford, under the leadership of fifth-year head coach Johnny Dawkins, is 9-4 after a 65-59 home win vs. Lafayette on Dec. 29. Junior forward Dwight Powell has led the Cardinal in scoring with a 14.5 average and is second in rebounding with a 7.2 average. USC has lost its last two games against Stanford, but leads the all-time series, 121-120. Stanford won the season series last season and USC swept the series in the 2010-11 season and USC leads 8-7 in the last seven seasons. Stanford's win at the Galen Center last season snapped a Trojan six-game home winning streak in the series.
USC BEATS DAYTON IN OT -- Eric Wise scored a season-high 19 points and Aaron Fuller added a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds to lead USC to a 63-61 overtime victory over Dayton (9-4) at the Galen Center on Dec. 30. USC never trailed in the game, but was forced to play OT after a Dayton layup at the buzzer was reviewed by the officials and allowed to stand. In overtime, Fuller hit two free throws to break a 55-all tie, then added a putback to extend the lead to 59-55. After Dayton closed to 59-58, Jio Fontan made a spinning basket near the free throw line and added a free throw to extend the lead to 62-58 and the Trojans held on for their second win in the last nine games.
CALIFORNIA ON DECK -- USC's next game will be against California (8-4) on Jan. 5 at 8 p.m. at the Gale Center. The Golden Bears lost their last nonconference game, a 67-62 home setback against Harvard. Cal has been led by the dynamic scoring duo of Allen Crabbe (20.9) and Justin Cobbs (16.4) who rank first and seventh respectively among Pac-12 players in points per game. Mike Montgomery is in his 31st season as a head coach, fifth at the helm for the Golden Bears. California won both meetings last season and leads the all-time series, 130-121.
THE START OF CONFERENCE PLAY -- USC opened up Pac-12 play last season against the same two teams on the road and lost by four at California and by eight at Stanford. USC has lost its last two conference openers and is 4-6 in the last 10 first-games of conference play. USC begins Pac-12 play on a nine-game regular season losing streak to conference foes with the last win being on Jan. 28, 2012 vs. Utah. The preseason Pac-12 media poll picked USC to finish ninth and Stanford to finish fourth in conference play.
IT'S WISE TO DIVERSIFY -- USC redshirt senior Eric Wise has been a stat-sheet stuffer this season for USC, ranking among the Trojans' leaders in most categories while averaging 11.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. Among USC players, he ranks first in field goals made (57) and points (148), second in steals (15) and rebounds (60), tied for second in free throws made (24), third in blocks (6) and fourth in assists (18). Wise has been USC's leading scorer in seven of the 13 games and been the second-leading scorer twice. He also has scored in double figures in 10 of the 13 games. Wise entered the week ranked 11th in field goal percentage (53.8) among conference players.
DEFENSE TIGHTENING -- USC has held the opposition to an average of 53.0 points over the last four games, after surrendering an average of 67.9 points in the first nine games.
GUARDING THE LINE -- USC has allowed the opposition to make 36.2 percent of its three-point attempts this season, but has made adjustments and is holding opponents to 25.0 percent from beyond the arc in the last five games (20-for-80). In the first eight games USC's opponents made 42.1 percent of its three-point shots.
FUNNY MATH... -- USC has made 19 more field goals that its opponents this season, yet has been outscored by nine points. USC's opponents have made 84 three-pointers to the Trojans' 62 and have made 25 more free throws.
SPORADIC SHOOTING -- USC has struggled to find consistency shooting the ball this season, while averaging only 41.6 percent. In seven of the games USC has shot 40.4 percent or less, while shooting 44.2 percent or higher in five games.
THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN... -- USC's schedule is one of the toughest in the country, currently ranked No. 24 by CBSSportsline. In the seven-game stretch which began vs. Illinois on Nov. 19 in Maui and ended Dec. 8 vs. Minnesota, USC played four teams that are currently ranked in the top 20 (No. 11 Illinois, No. 19 San Diego State, No. 20 New Mexico and No. 9 Minnesota) and the seven teams have a composite record of 77-18. Only two of the seven games in that stretch were at home.
THREES ARE THE KEYS -- In USC's eight losses this season, the opposition has made 63 of 147 three-pointers for a 42.9 shooting percentage from beyond the arc. In six of the eight losses, USC allowed the opposition to make at least six three-pointers, Illinois (13), San Diego State (7), Nebraska (11), New Mexico (11), Minnesota (6) and UC Irvine (9). In USC's five wins, the opponents have made 24.7 percent of their three-point shots (21-for-85).
THE INSIDE JOB -- Center Omar Oraby was 7-for-9 and scored 15 points vs. Minnesota on Dec. 8, with all of his points coming from inside the paint in the second half of the game. He made his first start on Dec. 15 vs. UCR and scored 7 points on 2-for-3 shooting. Orabay scored a team-high 14 points at Georgia on Dec. 22 and added 11 rebounds for his first double-double as a Trojan and fourth of his career. Oraby has made 62.5 percent (4-0-for-64) of his shots this season and has averaged 8.0 points while playing 15.3 minutes per game. Oraby leads the team in prorated scoring with a 20.9 average per 40 minutes.
THE SULTANS OF SWAT -- USC had a season-high 10 blocks on Dec. 15 vs. UC Riverside, led by a career-high six from Dewayne Dedmon. Dedmon's total tied him for the eighth-best single-game total by a Trojan. The 10 blocks were the most by a Trojan team since also registering 10 vs. Stanford on Feb. 6, 2010. Together, Dedmon (24) and Omar Oraby (22) have combined for 46 blocks and rank fourth and fifth respectively among Pac-12 players in blocks.