USC Faces No. 1 Arizona Sunday At The Galen Center
Jan. 11, 2014
The USC Trojans (9-6, 0-2) will host the No. 1 Arizona Wildcast (16-0, 3-0) at the Galen Center on Jan. 12 at 6 p.m. USC is 7-1 at home this season. USC last started conference play 0-3 in 2012 when it lost its first eight Pac-12 games.
FACING THE TOP DOGS...OR `CATS -- USC is playing the No. 1 ranked team in the country for the first time since Feb. 19, 2004 when it fell 76-67 to Stanford. The last time USC faced a No. 1 ranked Arizona team was on Feb. 15, 2003 and lost 86-59 in Tucson, Ariz. The last time USC defeated a No. 1 ranked team was 44 years ago, when USC defeated No. 1 UCLA 87-86 at Pauley Pavilion on March 6, 1970. USC also defeated the No. 1 ranked UCLA Bruins during the 1969 season. USC is 4-2 in the last six games against a ranked Arizona team, knocking off the Wildcats when the were No. 10, No. 11 twice and No. 19.
BREAKING DOWN THE WILDCATS - The Arizona Wildcats (16-0, 3-0) have ranked No. 1 in the country the past five weeks. The Wildcats began Pac-12 play with a dominating 60-25 home win vs. Washington State, then defeated Washington 71-62 at home and won 79-75 at UCLA. USC and Arizona split the season series last year with each team winning on its home court, Arizona won 74-54 in Tucson in January and USC won 89-78 at the Galen Center in February. Arizona leads the all-time series 60-40, with each team having a win vacated due to NCAA penalty. USC is 8-8 in the last 16 games against Arizona, including winning six of the last eight at home. Arizona has four players averaging double figuers in scoring junior guard Nick Johnson (16.4), freshman forward Aaron Gordon (12.3), sophomore forward Brandon Ashley (11.8) and sophomore center Kaleb Tarczewski (10.4). Arizona has held the opposition to 36.8 percent shooting and averages 11.3 more rebounds per game than its opponent. They also hold the opposition to 56.2 points per game.
ASU HANDS USC FIRST HOME LOSS -- USC had its worst offensive night of the season to date and suffered its first home loss of the year, falling 79-60 to Arizona State in its Pac-12 home opener on Jan. 9. With just over six minutes to go in the first half USC trailed 22-19 in what had been a tight game, but the Sun Devils outscored USC 22-9 to end the half to take a 44-28 lead at the break. ASU made 5 of 6 three-pointers in the final seven minutes of the half, while the Trojans committed 11 first-half turnovers. USC scored the first six points of the second half, but ASU responded with a 9-1 run and the Trojans got no closer than 15 points the rest of the way. Byron Wesley led USC with 20 points and a career-high 14 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season. USC was held to 36.1 percent from the field including 17.6 percent from 3-point range and 52.0 percent at the free throw line.
GAME AT UTAH ON DECK - USC's next game will be Jan. 16 at the Utah Runnin' Utes (12-3, 1-2) who are 12-1 at home. Sophomore forward Jordan Loveridge (16.5) and junior guard Delon Wright (15.6) have led Utah in scoring. USC leads the all-time series with Utah 17-15, but lost the last meeting 69-66 on March 13, 2013 in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament.
DAUNTING GAUNTLET -- USC's first five Pac-12 opponents (UCLA, ASU, Arizona, Utah & Colorado) have a combined 67-11 record this season. Included in that stretch for USC is three road games and those teams are a combined 33-2 on their home courts.
AND ON THE SEVENTH DAY...THEY PLAYED BASKETBALL? -- USC will be playing a game on the sixth consecutive Sunday dating back to Dec. 8. USC won its first four (Boston College, CSU Bakersfield, Dayton and Howard), before falling last week at UCLA.
HOT START AT HOME - USC won its first seven home games this season, the most consecutive home wins to start a season since winning the first eight home games of the 2009 season. USC is 7-1 at home this season and dating back to last season has won nine of 10 home games.
SIGNS OF SLAM CITY -- USC had one dunk vs. ASU on Jan. 5 and now has out-slammed the opposition 45-19 this season. USC has seven games with at least four dunks, while the opposition has only two games with more than two dunks (5 - Villanova on Nov. 28 and 4- ASU on Jan. 9).
GETTING TO THE LINE -- USC has taken 400 free throws through 15 games for an average of 26.6 per game. Last season through 15 games, USC averaged 17.7 free throw attempts (266 total). USC opponents this season have taken 19.9 free throws per game. That's the good, the bad is that USC has shot under 60 percent from the charity stripe the last three games for a total of 46-for-85 (54.1 percent).
WESLEY THE ONE CONSTANT -- Since USC wing Byron Wesley arrived on campus as a freshman for the 2011-12 season, he has been the one constant on the team. He is the only remaining player from that recruiting class at USC and the only remaining scholarship player from that team. As a freshman he quietly ranked among the top Pac-12 freshmen in six different category averages: scoring (9.6), rebounds (5.1), defensive rebounds (4.2), assists (1.8), steals (0.8) and minutes (34.6). Last season as a sophomore, he ranked third on the team in scoring (10.2) and rebounding (4.3), second in minutes (31.9) and assists (61 total). He improved on his shooting and expanded his repertoire to include the three-point shot, making 17 in conference play and finishing one make away from qualifying to lead the conference in three-point shooting percentage at .486 (17-for-35). Wesley opened the 2013-14 season with 15 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists at Utah State on Nov. 8 and then logged his first double-double with 16 points and a career-high 11 rebounds vs. CSUN on Nov. 12. He followed that up with a career-high 31 points vs. NAU on Nov. 15. The 31 points are a Galen Center record (O.J. Mayo had 32, but player participation was later vacated due to NCAA penalty). In the game on Nov. 19 vs. CSUF, Wesley led the Trojans with 22 points and 9 rebounds. He scored 15 points and had 10 rebounds vs. Villanova on Nov. 28 for his second career double-double. Wesley led USC with 20 points in the win vs. CSUB on Dec. 15. Wesley did not start on Dec. 19 at Long Beach State due to coach's decision, making it just the second time in his three-year career he did not start, with the other being on Senior Day last season. He came off the bench to lead USC with 26 points and 10 rebounds at Dayton on Dec. 22 for his third double-double. Wesley returned to the starting lineup and scored 20 points vs. Howard on Dec. 29 and 21 points at UCLA on Jan. 5. Wesley had a career-high 14 rebounds and added 20 points for his fourth double-double and for his seventh 20-point game this season. Through Pac-12 games of Jan. 9, Wesley ranks second in scoring (20.5) and tied for first in rebounding (11.5) in conference games. He has started 76 of 79 games at USC.