USC To Host Rival UCLA At Galen On Wednesday|
Jan. 13, 2015
The USC Trojans (9-7, 1-3) will host the UCLA Bruins (10-7, 2-2) at the Galen Center on Jan. 14 at 6 p.m. The game will air on ESPN2 and ESPNLA 710. USC is 7-4 in its last 11 games.
BREAKING DOWN THE BRUINS -- UCLA is coming off a home sweep of the Northern California schools, first an 86-81 double-overtime win over Stanford on Jan. 8, then a 73-54 win over California on Jan. 11. Prior to that, UCLA had lost five consecutive games. UCLA is led in scoring by sophomore guard Bryce Alford's 15.4 points per game, but all five starters are averaging in double-figures. Freshman forward Kevon Looney is averaging a double-double with 13.1 points and 10.3 rebounds per game through the Bruins' first 17 games. UCLA is 0-3 in true road games this season. UCLA leads the all-time series with USC, 135-104 (reflects 1 USC win in 2008 vacated due to NCAA penalty), and has won the last three meetings.
USC'S COMEBACK FALLS SHORT AGAINST STANFORD -- USC's improbable comeback fell just short when Jordan McLaughlin slipped on his drive to the basket in the waning seconds and Stanford held on for a 78-76 victory on Jan. 11. The Trojans trailed by 13 points with under seven minutes remaining and scored 10 consecutive points in the final 5 minutes to trail just 77-76 with under eight seconds remaining. The Trojans called a timeout and designed a play for McLaughlin to drive the lane, but he slipped in the paint and Stanford came away with the ball, and after one free throw by Stefan Nastic, a two-point win. Stanford made 9 of 13 three-pointers in the first half to open up a 49-43 lead at the break. The lead swelled to double-digits before USC mounted its comeback. Julian Jacobs with five points and Elijah Stewart with four points were instrumental in getting the Trojans close during their final surge, then McLaughlin hit a pair of free throws and a layup to cut it to one point. A missed jumper by Stanford's Anthony Brown with 14 seconds left set up USC's last chance for the win. Brown led Stanford with 21 points and Jacobs led USC with 16 points. After the teams combined to make 70 percent of their 3-pointers in the first half, they combined to go 1-for-16 in the second half from beyond the arc.
OREGON ON DECK -- USC's next game will be against the Oregon Ducks (12-4, 2-1) on Jan. 22 in Eugene, Ore. at 8 p.m. Oregon is 7-1 in its last eight games with the only loss being to No. 10/No. 9 Arizona (80-62) on Jan. 8. Oregon will play at Washington and at Washington State before hosting USC. The Ducks are 11-2 at home and led by senior guard Joseph Young who is averaging 19.4 points. USC has lost its last eight games against Oregon, but leads the all-time series, 60-50 (reflects 2 wins by USC in 2008 vacated).
OFFENSE IMPROVING -- USC has averaged 72.1 points per game in the last nine games, after averaging 62.3 points in the first seven contests. USC scored 75 or more points in four consecutive games (Dec. 3-21) for the first time since Nov. 30-Dec. 9, 2003.
TEAM TROJAN -- USC currently has eight players averaging over 5.0 points per game. The last time USC had eight players average over 5.0 points for a season was the 2004-05 season. USC has had eight different players lead the team or tie for game-high scoring this season and seven players have scoring in double figures at least three times. Five different Trojans have led the team in rebounding in a game this season.
YOU'VE BEEN SERBED! -- USC sophomore Nikola Jovanovic from Belgrade, Serbia and junior Strahinja Gavrilovic from Kragujevac, Serbia have teamed up to provide the Trojans with a strong interior presence this season. Jovanovic has averaged 12.6 points and a team-leading 7.9 rebounds per game. He also scored in double figures in each of the last 11 games with averages of 14.6 points (161 total) and 8.8 rebounds (97 total) in that span. Gavrilovic has averaged 6.1 points and 3.3 rebounds per game this season. He has scored in double figures five times in 16 games this season, after reaching 10 or more points twice in his first two seasons.
MEN OF STEAL -- USC has registered 125 steals this season through 16 games, after getting a total of 174 in 32 games last season. So far this season USC has three players who rank in the top 13 in the conference in steals per game: Jordan McLaughlin has 23 steals (1.6 spg) to rank fifth, Ratin Reinhardt and Julian Jacobs have 19 steals (1.2 spg) to rank tied for 13th.
McLAUGHLIN BACK -- Freshman guard Jordan McLaughlin returned to action on Jan. 11 vs. Stanford after leaving the game at Utah on Jan. 2 and missing two other games with an injured right shoulder. Despite the injury holding him to six points at Utah, he is averaging 14.7 points in his last seven games (102 total) and leads USC this season with a 12.8 scoring average. He also has 29 assists, 21 rebounds and 11 steals in his last 7 games, while making 10 three-pointers.
PUTTING THE "FREE" IN FREE THROWS -- After struggling all season at the charity stripe, USC has combined to make 81.8 percent (36-for-44) of its shots from the line in the past two games. USC made 17 of 20 free throws in the win vs. California on Jan. 7, USC's best effort from the line this season, and then hit 19 of 24 vs. Stanford on Jan. 11. USC had made only 58.8 percent of its free throws in the previous nine games (97-for-165). USC was 15-for-28 (.536) from the free throw line in the overtime loss to Army on Dec. 13. USC is shooting 63.8 percent from the free throw line this season and has only topped 70 percent in three of its first 16 games. USC has taken 61 more free throws (334-273) than its opponents, but has made just 25 more free throws (213-188).
BATTLE OF THE BOARDS -- USC has won the battle of the boards 12 times in 16 games, including 11 of the last 12 games. For the season, USC has outrebounded its opponents 610-580. USC's season high for rebounds was 51 vs. Penn State on Nov. 23. USC has 207 offensive rebounds which ranks second among Pac-12 teams.
GAINING EXPERIENCE -- Eleven of the 13 players to appear in a game for USC this season are either freshmen or sophomores. USC's freshmen and sophomores have logged 91.3 percent of the team's minutes. Despite Malik Martin (3+ games) and Jordan McLaughlin (2+ games) missing time due to injury, USC's four freshmen had combined to play 38.8 percent of USC's minutes this season.
THE DEFENSE RESTS -- USC has struggled defensively since Pac-12 play began, allowing opponents to shoot a conference-high 47.7 percent against them, including 40.5 percent from three-point range (11th in conference). However, USC held California to 35.4 percent shooting, including 20.0 percent from three-point range in the win on Jan. 7. Entering conference play, USC had held its opponents to 38.9 percent shooting from the floor, including 29.3 percent from three-point range. Still, USC has held eight of 16 opponents this season to 40 percent shooting or less, for a combined 41.1 shooting percentage. Last season, USC's opponents had a combined field goal percentage of 43.0 percent.
JACOBS TURNED IT UP A NOTCH FOR PAC-12 PLAY -- Sophomore guard Julian Jacobs has stepped up his game since conference play began. In USC's first four conference games, Jacobs is second on the team with a 13.5 scoring average, whill grabbing 4.0 rebounds per game. Jacobs also leads the team with 16 assists in Pac-12 play. His 4.0 assists per game rank fifth in the conference through games of Jan. 11. He also ranks seven in field goal percentage (.568) and 13th in scoring.
SHORTAGE OF THREES -- USC enters tonight's game with the fewest amount of three-pointers made (72) for any Pac-12 team. In 12 of USC's first 16 games, the team has made four three-pointers or less. USC has made 72 compared to its opponent's 111 three-pointers, but has made 107 less attempts from beyond the arc. USC's opponents have made seven or more three-pointers in a game 12 times, while the Trojans have reach that total three times.