USC Seeks Season Split With Oregon
Feb. 11, 2011
TONIGHT'S GAME -- The USC Trojans (13-11, 5-6) will host the Oregon Ducks (12-12, 5-7) at the Galen Center on Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Prime Ticket with Paul Sunderland and Brandon Granville calling the action and Kelli Tennant providing sideline commentary. The Trojans are 10-3 at the Galen Center this season.
BREAKING DOWN THE DUCKS -- Oregon is coming off a 64-54 loss at UCLA on Feb. 10, but has won four of its last six games. Oregon defeated USC 68-62 on Jan. 13 in Eugene, Ore. in the inaugural game in the Matthew Knight Arena. In that game the Ducks used a 19-2 run early in the second half to open up a 20-point lead and the Trojans' late rally fell short. Oregon is led in scoring and rebounding by redshirt senior Joevan Catron with 16.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Catron missed the first game the two teams played with an injury.
TROJANS DEFEAT BEAVERS -- USC built a 14-point halftime lead by finishing with a 31-12 run and held off Oregon State in the second half for a 67-56 win at the Galen Center on Feb. 10. Nikola Vucevic led USC with 17 points and 10 rebounds, his 13th double-double of the season. USC won for only the third time this season when an opponent shot 40 percent or better, as the Beavers finished at 40.4 percent for the game. USC hit only 38.9 percent of its shots, but forced Oregon State to commit an opponent 2011 high 19 turnovers.
TRIP TO CAL ON DECK -- USC's next game will be at California on Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m. in Berkeley, Calif. USC has lost its last three trips to Berkeley and is 3-15 in the last 18 visits to Haas Pavillion (2 G later forfeited by Cal). The Bears defeated USC 68-66 on Jan. 22 at the Galen Center, despite 8 three-point baskets by Donte Smith. California (13-11, 6-6) lost 109-77 at Washington on Feb. 10 and will play at Washington St. on Feb. 12 before hosting USC. Junior Harper Kamp leads 4 Bears scoring in double figures with a 14.8 average. In Pac-10 play, Kamp, Allen Crabbe & Jorge Gutierrez rank 6-8th respectively among the conference's leading scorers.
USC NEARLY UNBEATABLE... -- ...when holding the opposition to under 40 percent shooting from the field. USC is 10-1 this season when the opposition shoots under 40 percent (only loss at Kansas - .389). Oregon State made 40.4 percent of its shots in USC's win on Feb. 10, just the third time this season the Trojans have won when allowing 40 percent or more shooting by the opposition (3-10).
USC WEATHERING THE STORM -- Despite three players leaving early to play professionally and virtually the entire recruiting class leaving before he could coach a game, USC head coach Kevin O'Neill has kept the Trojans highly competitive in 2010 and 2011. USC was in the thick of the 2010 Pac-10 title race until the final weeks of the season, despite taking a postseason ban. USC lost 4 of our Top 6 scorers from last year's 16-win team and has had to overcome the cumulative loss of 12 players in a one year span. USC was one scholarship down both last season and this, yet has gone a composite 29-25 in O'Neill's first 54 games while playing one of the tougher schedules in the country, including posting a 4-3 record vs. ranked teams. Coach O'Neill was able to bridge the gap which created a one-man sophomore scholarship class of Evan Smith (out all season due to injury), by bringing in transfers Jio Fontan this season and Aaron Fuller and Dewayne Dedmon next season. In addition, USC has a top 10-ranked 2011 recruiting class according to Hoopscooponline.com.
THE MAGICAL MARK OF 60 -- With the 67-56 win over Oregon State on Thursday, USC improved to 9-0 this season when the opponent is held to under 60 points.
DRIVEN BY DEFENSE -- USC has held 81 teams to 60 points or less in the last six seasons (187 games), including 10 this season. The Trojans have held 12 teams this season (10-2) to 40 percent or less shooting from the field, 17 last season (13-4) and have held 98 teams (78-20) under 40 percent shooting in the last six seasons. USC held Stanford to 22.2 percent shooting on Jan. 20, the lowest percentage by a Trojan opponent in at least the last 30 seasons. USC held it opponents in the 2009-10 season to a 38.4 shooting percentage, best in the Pac-10. USC currently ranks second in the Pac-10 by holding the opposition to a 41.4 percent from the floor.
TROJANS BOAST TOP TANDEM - Forwards Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stepheson have teamed up to give the Trojans a strong presence in the paint, both offensively and defensively. Vucevic leads the Pac-10 and is tied for 12th in the country with 13 double-doubles, while Stepheson is tied for third in the conference with 7 double-doubles. The tandem also ranks No. 1 and No. 2 in the Pac-10 in rebounding with Vucevic grabbing 9.8 and Stepheson 8.9 rebounds per game. Through games of Feb. 10, Vucevic (26) and Stepheson (T-45) were the only pair of teammates in the top 50 in rebounding.
IT'S SIMPLE REALLY... - USC is 11-2 when posting a better shooting percentage than the opposition and 11-4 when getting more or as many rebounds.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES - USC is 2-6 in games played on Saturday and 1-3 in Wednesday games. The Trojans are a combined 10-2 in games played on other days of the week.
GOLDEN IN GOLD - USC defeated Oregon State on Thursday while wearing the gold uniforms, improving its record to 5-1 when donning those uniforms this season.
NIK THE QUICK...AS IN QUICKLY GETTING NOTICED - Junior forward Nikola Vucevic was named Pac-10 Most Improved Player for the 2010 season and continues to take his game to the next level. Through the first 24 games, Vucevic leads USC with 16.7 points and 9.8 rebounds while attempting to become the first Trojan to average a double-double since Jaha Wilson averaged 14.2 points and 10.1 rebounds during the 1994-95 season. Vucevic leads the conference in total rebounds (236) and defensive rebounds (164), ranks second in minutes per game (34.4), fourth in blocked shots (33) and fourth in scoring (16.7 ppg). Vucevic has demonstrated an all-around game for USC, leading the team in points, blocks and rebounds, ranking second in free throw percentage (.746), third in assists (40) and ranking fourth in three-pointers made (19). Vucevic has had eight 20-point games and 13 double-doubles this season.