USC Begins Final Road Swing At Washington State Thursday
March 4, 2014
The USC Trojans (10-19, 1-15) will play at the Washington State Cougars (9-19, 2-14) in Pullman, Wash on March 6 at 8 p.m. USC has lost a season high 10 consecutive games and is 1-15 in the last 16 games, after opening the season with a 9-4 record. The 10-game losing streak is USC's longest since going without a victory in the final 10 games of the 2012 season. The last time USC lost 11 or more games was in the 1989 season when it lost 13 consecutive games.
BREAKING DOWN THE COUGARS - The Cougars are coming off a 72-49 loss at Washington on Feb. 28 and have lost a season-high seven consecutive games. Guard Davonte' Lacy, who missed eight games earlier with an injury, leads WSU in scoring with a 19.6 average. USC leads the all-time series with Washington State, 68-47. The Trojans are 1-9 in the last 10 visits to Pullman, winning last in the 2009 season.
USC FALTERS LATE, FALLS TO OREGON -- USC was outscored by Oregon 17-3 over the final nine minutes to break up a close game and send the Trojans to a 78-63 defeat on Senior Day. There were 19 lead changes and the game was tied 15 times before Oregon closed the game on a run. USC's last basket of the game came at the 9:21 mark when Byron Wesley scored on a layup to cut the Oregon lead to 61-60. The Trojans then went without a point the next five-plus minutes until Omar Oraby hit a pair of free throws with 4:12 left to end a 13-0 run by the Ducks.
THE DECEPTIVE 10 -- At first glance at the 10-game losing streak, including the final scores, would make you think USC has been out most of the games early, but the reverse is actually the truth. USC has led in the second half in six of the games and the other four games were within five points at some point in the second half. USC has lost the games by an average score of 68.2-78.9 (-10.7 ppg). USC has committed 48 more fouls and scored 43 less points from the free throw line in the 10 games. USC has also committed 27 more turnovers and made 26 less three-pointers than its opponent in the streak.
WASHINGTON ON DECK - USC's next game will be at Washington (16-13, 8-8) on March 8 at 1:30 p.m., the final regular season game. Washington is 6-1 at home and will host UCLA on March 6 before facing USC. Senior guard C.J. Wilcox leads four Huskies scoring in double figures with an 18.2 average and leads all conference players with 81 three-pointers made. USC trails in the all-time series 67-69, as two wins in 2008 were vacated due to NCAA sanctions.
LET ME ASSIST YOU -- Pe'Shon Howard leads the team with 113 assists, followed closely by Julian Jacobs with 103. They are the first pair of Trojans with 100 or more assists in the same season since 2007 (Gabe Pruitt-113, Daniel Hackett-103).
IMPACT FRESHMEN -- Freshmen Julian Jacobs and Nikola Jovanovic are quietly posting two of the better USC freshmen seasons in awhile. Jacobs' 103 assists are T-7th in a single season by a Trojan freshman. He also is three steals outside the freshman top 10 in steals. Jovanovic is T-8th in free throw percentage (.750) and has the 10th-best field goal percentage (.511) by a Trojan freshman. Entering play this week, among Pac-12 freshmen Jovanovic ranks 8th in scoring and 5th in rebounding, while leading all conference freshmen in shooting percentage. Jacobs is 11th in scoring, 6th in rebounding, 2nd in steals, is 2nd in assists and is 4th in blocks.
WESLEY IS MOVING UP THE CHARTS -- Junior Byron Wesley was held to nine points on Feb. 27, but in the last eight games has averaged 18.6 points (149 total). He surpassed the 1,000 career points plateau on Feb. 1 at Oregon and now has 1,094 career points, 30th on USC's all-time scoring list, just passing Paul Westphal (1,085). Gabe Pruitt is 29th (1,102), Ron Riley is 28th (1,105), Bill Sharman is 27th (1,107) and Jaha Wilson is 26th (1,116). Wesley is the only Pac-12 player this season leading his team in both scoring and rebounding averages. Wesley ranks seventh in scoring and is T-14th in rebounding among Pac-12 players this season. He also ranks 10th among active conference players in career points scored.
SIGNS OF SLAM CITY -- USC was held without a dunk vs. Oregon on March 1, the third time in four games and the only three times this season. Still, USC has out-slammed the opposition 69-42 this season. USC has eight games with at least four dunks, while the opposition has only three (5 - Villanova on Nov. 28, 4 - ASU on Jan. 9 and 4 - Oregon on March 1).
GETTING TO THE LINE -- USC has taken 702 free throws through 29 games this season, after taking a total of 547 last season. USC has struggled at the free throw line this season (66.4 percent) with seven games under 60.0 percent from the charity stripe. In the last five games, however, USC has made 71.9 percent of its free throws (82-for-114). In the last 12 games USC has been called for 60 more fouls (264-204) and the opposition has taken 67 more free throws (340-273).
SECOND HALF STRUGGLES -- USC was outscored 42-27 by Oregon in the second half on March 1 and in the last 10 games has been outscored after the break (including overtime) 438-364. In the last 10 games USC had made 41.3 percent (123-for-298) of its shots after the break, including 26.1 percent from three-point range (23-for-88). Included in that stretch, the opposition has had eight runs of at least 10-0 in the second half.
PE'SHON ON POINT -- Guard Pe'Shon Howard is averaging 10.9 points per game this season and was even better in the seven games from Nov. 28-Dec. 22 when he averaged 15.4 points. Howard scored 12 points and had a season-high 10 assists vs. California on Jan. 22 and followed that up with 13 points and six assists vs. Stanford on Jan. 26. In his last 10 games he has averaged 12.9 points (129 total), 3.0 rebounds (30 total) and 4.2 assists (42 total). Howard has been heating up from beyond the arc, too, making 8-for-15 (53.3 percent) from three-point range the last four games.