USC Plays At Utah Thursday|
Jan. 14, 2014
The USC Trojans (9-7, 0-3) will play the Utah Runnin' Utes (12-4, 1-3) at the Jon. M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. (PT). USC last started conference play 0-3 in 2012 when it lost its first eight Pac-12 games. That streak ended with a home win against Utah.
BREAKING DOWN UTAH - Utah (12-4, 1-3) lost two close games on the road last week, first 59-57 at Washington on Jan. 8 and then 49-46 at Washington State on Jan. 12. The Utes are 12-1 on their home court this season, with the only setback being 70-68 in overtime to then No. 10 and undefeated Oregon. Sophomore forward Jordan Loveridge (16.4) and junior guard Delon Wright (15.5) have led Utah in scoring. Utah has held its opponents to 60.3 points per game, 16th in the country through games of Jan. 12. 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.
USC HANGS WITH No. 1 ARIZONA UNTIL LATE -- USC was within five points of No. 1 Arizona and had the ball with under nine minutes to go in the second half, but eventually fell 73-53 at the Galen Center on Jan. 12. The Trojans trailed by seven points with just over six minutes remaining, but the Wildcats finished the game on a 21-8 run to set a school record for consecutive victories to start a season (17). Byron Wesley led USC with 18 points and six rebounds, while both Brandon Ashley and T.J. McConnell led Arizona with a career-high 19 points.
GAME AT COLORADO ON DECK - USC's next game will be at Colorado (14-3, 3-1) on Jan. 18 at 11 a.m. (PT). The Buffaloes split a pair of road games last week, winning 71-70 at Washington State (in Spokane) and falling 71-54 at Washington. Colorado will host No. 25 UCLA on Jan. 16 before facing USC. The Buffaloes are a perfect 11-0 at home this season. Colorado has four players averaging double figures in scoring. Junior guard Spencer Dinwiddie (14.7), their leading scorer, tore his left ACL in the game at Washington and is out for the season. The remaining three players scoring in double figures are forward Josh Scott (13.6), guard Askia Booker (13.1) and forward Xavier Johnson (10.1).
DAUNTING GAUNTLET -- USC's first five Pac-12 opponents (UCLA, ASU, Arizona, Utah & Colorado) have a combined 69-14 record this season. Included in that stretch for USC is three road games and those teams are a combined 34-2 on their home courts.
DISECTING THE LOSSES -- USC has seven losses this season to teams which have a combined record of 85-28 through games of Jan. 13. Three of the losses are to teams currently ranked No. 1 (Arizona), No. 6 (Villanova) and No. 25 (UCLA). Six of the losses are to teams ranking in the top 68 in the RPI standings.
A COMPARISON OF NOTE -- A quick glance at the numbers in the USC wins vs. the losses reveals the following:
WINS LOSSES USC PPG 77.4 66.3 Opp. PPG 66.2 82.9 USC FG% .489 .400 Opp. FG% .368 .493 USC 3PT% .375 .217 USC Assists vs. Turnovers +15 -17 Rebound Edge +6.6 -0.9 Jovanovic PPG 12.0 5.7SIGNS OF SLAM CITY -- USC had three dunks vs. Arizona on Jan. 12 and now has out-slammed the opposition 48-22 this season. USC has seven games with at least four dunks, while the opposition has only two (5 - Villanova on Nov. 28 and 4- ASU on Jan. 9).
NO VACATION WHEN HIT THE ROAD -- USC is 1-3 on the road this season. The combined home record of the four teams USC has faced on the road this season is 32-7.
GETTING TO THE LINE -- USC has taken 408 free throws through 16 games for an average of 25.5 per game. Last season through 16 games, USC averaged 17.0 free throw attempts (272 total). USC opponents this season have taken 19.7 free throws per game. USC took a season-low eight free throws in the last game vs. Arizona, after earning 85 free throw attempts in the previous three games (28.3 per game).
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. 12, Wesley ranks fourth in scoring (19.7) and third in rebounding (9.7) in conference games. He has started 77 of 80 games at USC.
VOTE FOR ENFIELD -- USC head coach Andy Enfield has joined with 48 other top coaches around the country in taking part in the Infiniti Coaches' Charity Challenge which began on Jan. 6 and runs through March 16. The coaches will be competing for votes in a bracket-style format to raise money for their personal charities by counting on their fans to vote for them and advance them through the competition. USC fans will have the opportunity to vote for Andy Enfield on a daily basis at espn.com/infiniti. Fans can also support Enfield on Twitter with the hashtag #Vote4Enfield.