USC Looks To Bounce Back At California On Saturday
Jan. 7, 2010
BERKELEY, CALIF. -- The USC Trojans (10-5, 2-1) will face the California Golden Bears (9-5, 1-1) at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, Calif. on Jan. 9 at 7:30 p.m. The game will be televised on FSN with Barry Tompkins and Miles Simon calling all the action. It will also air live on USC radio flagship station ESPN Radio 710 AM with Pete Arbogast and Jim Hefner calling the action. USC is 8-2 in its last 10 games and had its 8-game winning streak snapped on Jan. 6 at Stanford.
SCOUTING THE GOLDEN BEARS -- California is coming off a 76-75 overtime loss vs. UCLA on Jan. 6, its first home loss of the season (8-1). Cal, the Pac-10 preseason favorite, is led by senior guards Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher who are averaging 19.0 and 16.1 points per game respectively. USC took two of three games from California last season, but trails in the all-time series 118-126. USC lost at California in overtime last season, 81-78.
USC'S COMEBACK FALLS SHORT -- Stanford's Jarrett Mann hit one of two free throws with 10 seconds left and the Cardinal held on for a 54-53 win over USC in Palo Alto on Jan. 6 as the Trojans missed several opportunities before the buzzer. USC had trailed by seven points with just over a minute left, but rallied to tie it at 53-all capped by a Leonard Washington three-pointer. The Trojans trailed for all but 22 seconds early in the first half before forging the tie. The Trojans had their eight-game winning streak snapped, their longest since winning nine consecutive games Nov. 25-Dec. 23, 2005. USC has now lost eight consecutive games at Maples Pavilion.
BRUINS ON DECK -- UCLA (7-8, 2-1) will play at Stanford on Jan. 9 before hosting USC at Pauley Pavilion on Jan. 16 at 4:30 p.m. UCLA is led in scoring by guards Malcolm Lee (14.1 ppg) and Michael Roll (13.6 ppg). UCLA leads the all-time series with USC, 128-101. The Bruins took two of three vs. the Trojans last season, with USC winning in the Pac-10 semifinals 65-55. USC is 7-9 in the last 16 games vs. UCLA and is 3-4 in the last seven at Pauley Pavilion.
TROJANS TOP DOGS ON DEFENSE -- USC enters the game having allowed 817 points in its first 15 games (54.5 ppg), its fewest through 15 games since allowing 769 points in the first 15 games of the 1950-51 season. The 54.5 points allowed per game by the Trojans leads the nation in scoring defense. USC has held its last nine opponents to 56 points or less and 11 times in 15 games this season. It is the first time the Trojans have held their opponents to 56 points or less nine consecutive times since they did it 12 straight in the 1947-48 season.
SEEKING FIRST ROAD WIN -- USC is 0-3 on the road this season with losses at Texas, Georgia Tech and Stanford. USC was 2-8 in road games last season and dating back to the 2008-09 season have lost eight consecutive games on its opponents' home court, including six straight Pac-10 road losses.
TEAM TROJAN -- USC's starters are all averaging between 9.7 and 12.7 points per game. In the seven games since point guard Mike Gerrity has been eligible, USC is 6-1 and all five starters have been USC's leading scorer or second leading scorer in a game at least twice.
USC ANNOUNCES SELF-IMPOSED SANCTIONS -- On Sunday, Jan. 3, USC announced self-imposed sanctions on its men's basketball program which includes a postseason ban this season and vacating all wins during the 2007-08 season. The complete release detailing all of the sanctions is on Page 4 of the notes.
VUCEVIC'S SOPHOMORE SURGE -- Sophomore forward Nikola Vucevic already has five double-doubles in his first 15 games this season, tied for second in the Pac-10 entering this week's action. Vucevic had 15 points and 10 rebounds vs. Tennessee on Dec. 19 for his fifth double-double. He had 14 points and posted a career-high 15 rebounds on Dec. 8 vs. Sac. State, a career-high 19 points and 11 rebounds vs. LMU on Nov. 21, 15 points and 12 rebounds vs. Coppin St. on Nov. 27 and 18 points and 14 rebounds at Texas on Dec. 3. He is averaging 11.8 points and 9.5 rebounds, after averaging 2.6 points and 2.7 rebounds as a freshman last season. His 9.5 rebounds per game leads all Pac-10 players.
JOHNSON'S SECOND SENIOR SEASON -- USC redshirt senior G/F Marcus Johnson, who played the second semester last season after transferring to USC from UConn, was granted another year of eligibilty by the NCAA following the season, but penalized two games for playing in an exhibition game in the 2007-08 season. USC is 22-8 in games he has been available to play in the two seasons. In his first game this season on Nov. 27 vs. CSU, Johnson had 11 points, three rebounds and a steal. Johnson scored his USC high of 19 points and had a career-high nine rebounds vs. UNLV on Dec. 25. Johnson leads USC with 22 steals and is third in rebounds with 65 and blocks with nine.
SIMMONS' SUMMER SHOOTING SPREE -- Junior guard Marcus Simmons developed into USC's defensive stopper late last season and spent the summer working on his offense, including shooting until he made 1,000 shots a day...that is until his wrist started hurting and he had to back off some. It seems to have worked, though, as he is shooting 40.9 percent from the field and 75.0 percent from the free throw line this season compared to 37.9 percent (FG) and 50 percent (FT) last season.
SMITH STEPPING UP -- Junior guard Donte Smith has averaged 4.8 points through USC's first 15 games and is second on USC with 12 three-pointers made (12-for-35, 34.3 percent), as many as he made all last season. In the game vs. Nebraska on Nov. 29, Smith was 4-for-4 from the field, including hitting two three-pointers. Smith came off the bench to scored six big points down the stretch in USC's 55-51 win vs. Western Michigan on Dec. 22. He started at point guard the first eight games.
DEVELOPING A HOME COURT ADVANTAGE AT GALEN -- USC has a 47-12 record all-time at the Galen Center, including winning 26 of the last 30 home games.
FACING THE BEST -- USC's 2009-10 schedule features 12 games against teams that were in the NCAA Tournament last season and another 10 games against teams which were in either the NIT or CBI tournaments, meaning 22 of 30 games against teams that played in the 2009 postseason and 23 of 30 against teams that posted a .500 or better record. USC's opponents have a combined 125-69 record this season (64.4 winning percentage) through games of Jan. 4.
PAC-10 PREDICTIONS -- USC was picked to finish ninth in the Pac-10 Conference in a vote by the league media. California was picked first, Washington second, UCLA third, Arizona fourth, Oregon State fifth, Oregon sixth, Arizona State seventh, Washington State eighth and Stanford 10th.
A HISTORY OF WINNING -- USC has compiled a record of 1,469-1,047 in its 104 years of intercollegiate basketball competition. USC has had a .500 or better record in 74 of the first 103 seasons.
TROJANS IN THE RANKINGS -- USC ranked tied for No. 35 in the preseason USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll and was unranked in the AP and CBSSportsline polls. They currently are ranked No. 33 by AP, tied for 44 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll and 24th in the CBSSportsline Poll.
INJURY UPDATES -- Kasey Cunningham suffered a torn ACL and medial meniscus tear in his left knee in the game on Nov. 21 and will miss the remainder of the season. Cunningham has played in a total of 15 games (5 starts) since arriving at USC for the 2006-07 season. Percy Miller has missed the last six games with a chronic AC joint sprain of the left shoulder. Donte Smith suffered a mild left ankle sprain in the game vs. Stanford and is listed as questionable for the game vs. California.
GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT -- Alex Stepheson showed signs he is shaking off the rust of more than a year away from game action, as he scored a career-high 22 points at Georgia Tech on Dec. 5 and then had 10 points, 10 rebounds and 7 blocks vs. Sacramento State on Dec. 8 for his second career double-double. Stepheson then had his third career double-double vs. Idaho State on Dec. 11 with 16 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. In the game vs. Tennessee on Dec. 19, Stepheson had 19 points and a new career high with 15 rebounds to earn Pac-10 Player of the Week honors for the week of Dec. 14-20. He played in his first game as a Trojan on Nov. 27 vs. Coppin State and registered his first career double-double on Nov. 29 vs. Nebraska with 13 points and a then career-best 12 rebounds. In his first 13 games, he has averaged 10.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. He has seven or more rebounds in 10 of 13 games.
I LIKE MIKE -- What is not to like for Trojan fans as the senior has played seven games (6-1), leading USC to a 77-55 upset of No. 9 Tennessee on Dec. 19 and then to the championship of the Diamond Head Classic while earning Tournament MVP honors. Gerrity scored 15 of his team-high 17 points after halftime to help USC to a 55-51 comeback victory over Western Michigan on Dec. 22. He followed that up with a team-high 17 points including hitting a key three-pointer late in the game in the semifinals win vs. Saint Mary's on Dec. 23. In the finals vs. UNLV on Dec. 25, he had 13 points and three assists without a turnover against UNLV's tough press. He was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week for the week of Dec. 21-27. Gerrity has averaged 11.1 points, 3.6 assists and 3.3 rebounds in his first seven games. His 10 assists vs. Tennessee were the most by a Trojan since Daniel Hackett had 13 on Dec. 4, 2008 at Oklahoma. He has 25 assists and 18 turnovers, the only Trojan with a positive assist to turnover ratio.
WASHINGTON WORTH THE WAIT -- Sophomore forward Leonard Washington played in his first game of the season on Dec. 23 after missing the first semester with academic issues and had an immediate impact. He scored 10 points, had six rebounds, two assists, two blocks and an assist. He then scored nine points and had four rebounds and a block vs. UNLV on Dec. 25. In his first five games back, Washington has averaged 7.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and has five blocks and five steals. Washington was fifth in scoring for USC as a freshman with a 6.1 average in 30 games, 13 starts. He scored in double figures six times last season with a high of 17 vs. North Dakota State on Dec. 20, 2008.
BIG TIME LEWIS RISING UP SCORING LISTS -- Senior Dwight Lewis has scored 1,238 career points, 19th all-time at USC and nine points behind Purvis Miller (1978-81) who is in 18th place with 1,247 and 10 behind Stais Boseman (1994-97) who is in 17th place with 1,248. Lewis entered the season fifth among returning Pac-10 players in career points. He also ranks tied for 12th on USC's all-time three-point baskets list with 121 with Burth Harris (1993-95) and three behind Dwayne Hackett (1992-93) who has 124 to rank 11th on USC's all-time list. Lewis led USC with a 14.4 scoring average in 2008-09, as well in three-point baskets (55) and free throw shooting (74.8 percent). He reached double figures in scoring in 27 of his 33 games last season, scoring a career-high 26 twice (vs. San Francisco on Dec. 1 and at Oregon on Jan. 2). He scored 22 points vs. UCR on Nov. 17, 21 vs. Tennesse on Dec. 19 and 22 at Stanford on Jan. 6 and has had 12 career 20-point games.
DRIVEN BY DEFENSE -- USC has held 64 teams to 60 points or less in the last five seasons (150 games), including 11 this season. The Trojans held 17 of their opponents last season to 39.2 percent shooting or less, and have held 77 teams under 40 percent shooting in the last 150 games. USC was outshot from the field just nine times last season and five times so far this season (Nebraska, Texas, GT, WMU, Stanford). USC has had a better shooting percentage that its opponent in 95 of the last 120 games. USC held Sac. State to 23.0 percent shooting on Dec. 8, the lowest percentage by a Trojan opponent since Loyola Marymount shot 22.4 percent from the field on Dec. 9, 1998. Stanford shot 45.8 percent on Thursday (22-for-48, but the previous eight Trojan opponents combined to make 30.6 percent (129-for-421) from the field.
PLAYING BOARD GAMES -- USC is 8-6-1 in the rebound battle this season and has a rebound advantage of 481-399 in the last 13 games.
CRAZY EIGHTS -- USC has held seven of its last nine opponents to eight field goals or less in the first half. Prior to Stanford shooting 45.8 percent and making 13 first-half baskets, USC had held the previous eight teams to shooting 28.1 percent (59-for-210) before halftime and scoring an average of 21.1 points (169 total in the 1st half).
DWIGHT WAS RIGHT -- Senior Dwight Lewis who ranks tied for 12th all-time at USC with 121 three-point baskets went 4-for-8 from long distance on Thursday. That effort snapped a streak of five consecutive games in which he had not scored from three-point range (0-for-15), matching his longest career drought done Nov. 24-Dec. 9, 2006 during his freshman season. He has remained a constant scorer for USC, though, ranking first on the team with a 12.7 points per game average. Lewis has also had two games with three made from beyond the 3-point line this season and had a career-best six 3-pointers on Feb. 12, 2009 at Arizona.
QUICK STARTS -- USC is 10-5 this season, matching last year's start. The 2008-09 team was 11-5 through 16 games. The last time USC had a better 15-game start was the 2006-07 season when it began 11-4 and was 12-4 through 16 games.
USC'S BLOCK'N NEW YEAR -- USC had six blocks in the first game of the new year on Jan. 2 vs. Arizona State. For the Trojans, it was the fifth game this season with six or more blocks and they have registered 52 swats in the last nine games (5.8 per game). USC had a school-record 13 blocks on Dec. 11 vs. Idaho State and had 12 blocks vs. Sacramento State on Dec. 8.
ENNIS ELIGIBLE FOR COMPETITION/WETHERELL LEAVES TEAM -- USC guard Korri Ennis has been determined eligible for competition by the NCAA Clearinghouse and will be in uniform for the first time on Jan. 6 at Stanford. Ennis is a 6-0, 180-pound redshirt sophomore guard. He played collegiately at UC Riverside as a freshman in 2007 (1.6 ppg/1.3 rpg), before transferring to Florida A&M where he did not compete. He transfered to USC last year and played on the scout team which practiced against the USC women's team. He earned a spot on USC's men's basketball team at the open tryout held on Oct. 17. He will now be wearing No. 23, not No. 34 which he was originally given. Redshirt junior guard Ryan Wetherell decided to leave the men's basketball team over the holidays. He appeared in three games this season for a total of six minutes, but did not score. Wetherell played limited minutes in 15 games in both his freshman and sophomore seasons and then redshirted last season with an eye injury.