USC Prepares For Desert Storm Under New Leader Cantu
Jan. 22, 2013
USC (8-11, 3-3) will play at Arizona State (14-4, 3-2) at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Ariz. on Jan. 24 at 8:30 p.m. (MT). USC is 4-3 in its last seven games and 1-1 under interim head coach Bob Cantu. USC is seeking to win consecutive road games for the first time since Feb. 17, 2011 at California (78-75) & Feb. 19, 2011 at Stanford (69-53). USC's win at Utah on Jan. 12 snapped a 14-game road losing streak.
BREAKING DOWN THE SUN DEVILS -- Despite falling 71-54 at home to Arizona on Jan. 19, the Sun Devils are 14-4 and already have four more victories than last season (10-21). Freshman Jahii Carson (17.3 ppg) and senior Carrick Felix (14.6 ppg) lead the Sun Devils in scoring. Junior center Jordan Bachynski averages 9.9 points and leads the conference with 79 blocks. USC leads the all-time series with ASU, 51-35, but lost both games last season.
TROJANS GET CANTU FIRST VICTORY IN EXCITING FASHION -- Aaron Fuller's only basket, a layup with 4.8 seconds remaining off a feed from J.T. Terrell, gave USC a 69-68 victory over Oregon State on Jan. 19 at the Galen Center and hand interim head coach Bob Cantu his first victory. The lead changed hands eight times in the final 2:52. Joe Burton's layup with 12.6 seconds to play had given OSU a 68-67 lead. Devon Collier's game-winning attempt was blocked by Eric Wise as time ran out. USC had to overcome 20 turnovers forced by the OSU 1-3-1 press. Byron Wesley scored 19 points and Eric Wise added 18 to lead USC.
No. 6 ARIZONA ON DECK -- Arizona (16-1, 4-1) will entertain UCLA on Jan. 24 before hosting USC on Jan. 26 at 5 p.m. (MT) at the McKale Center. Arizona's only loss this season was a 70-66 setback at Oregon on Jan. 10. Seniors Mark Lyons (15.2) and Solomon Hill (13.6) along with sophomore Nick Johnson (12.7) lead the Wildcats in scoring. Arizona leads the all-time series, 60-40. USC has lost its last three games to the Wildcats and four in a row at Arizona.
CANTU'S CARDIAC KIDS -- In the two games that Bob Cantu has led the Trojans, they have lost by two points after missing three shots just before the buzzer and then won by one point by sinking a layup with four second left. It has actually gone on longer than that, as four of the last seven Trojan games have been decided by two points or less and USC is 3-1 in those games. Also, eight of the last nine games have been decided by eight points or less.
NOT SO FUNNY MATH... -- USC has made 30 more field goals that its opponents this season, yet has been outscored by 5 points. USC's opponents have made 116 three-pointers to the Trojans' 92 and have made 41 more free throws. In nine of the last 11 games USC has had as many or more baskets as its opponents, yet is 5-6 in that stretch. USC has also had as many or more baskets in five of the 11 losses this season.
OFFENSE STARTING TO CLICK -- USC has averaged 69.0 points in the first six conference games this season, to rank fourth in points per game among Pac-12 schools. Also, USC leads all Pac-12 teams with a 45.8 shooting percentage in conference games. USC has shot over 40 percent from the field in 11 of the last 12 games, after accomplishing the feat just three times in the first seven games.
STAR 69, DO YOU RECALL? -- USC has scored 69 points or more in three consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 11-Dec. 15, 2008 when it accomplished the feat for six consecutive games. To put it in perspective, USC did not score more than 62 points in the final 20 games of the 2011-12 season and scored over 66 points just once last season.
BATTLING THE BEST -- USC is one of five schools in the country (along with Kansas, Missouri, Purdue & Rhode Island) to have played seven games this season against teams ranked in the RPI Top 50 as of Jan. 22.
NICE TIME TO START...! -- Everyone knows about USC's early season tough schedule with five of seven games against teams much of the season ranked in the top 25, but interim head coach Bob Cantu is not catching any breaks, either. First Cantu's team faced No. 21 Oregon (15-2) at home (L, 76-74), then beat Oregon State (69-68) on Jan 19, now plays at ASU (14-4) on Jan. 24, at No. 6 Arizona (16-1) on Jan. 26 and at No. 28 UCLA (15-4) on Jan. 30. The teams have a combined 71-20 record and the three games on the road will be against teams that are a combined 31-4 at home this season.
GUARDING THE LINE -- USC has allowed the opposition to make 36.6 percent of its three-point attempts this season, but has made adjustments and is holding opponents to 31.5 percent from beyond the arc in the last 11 games (52-for-165). In the first eight games USC's opponents made 42.1 percent of its three-point shots.
NO ORDINARY PACE AROUND THE BLOCK -- USC has registered 97 blocks this season, more than 18 complete Trojan seasons since the stat was charted in 1979. USC is on a pace to get 158 blocks in the regular season, just seven off the school record of 165 set in 2009.