USC Faces Rival UCLA In Pac-12 Tournament Opener
March 5, 2012
No. 12 seed USC (6-25, 1-17) will play No. 5 seed UCLA (18-13, 11-7) in the first round of the Pacific Life Pac-12 Tournament at Staples Center on March 7 at 2:40 p.m. The game will be televised on FSN with Kevin Calabro and Don MacLean calling the action and Rebecca Haarlow providing sideline commentary. USC enters the tournament matching a season high with a nine-game losing streak and is 1-18 in its last 19 games.
BREAKING DOWN THE BRUINS -- UCLA won four of its last five conference games to secure the No. 5 seed. Senior guard Lazeric Jones leads the Bruins with a 13.4 scoring average, but three other Bruins also score in double figures: redshirt sophomore Travis Wear (11.5), redshirt sophomore David Wear (10.4) and sophomore Josh Smith (10.1). UCLA won both regular season games against USC this season, winning 66-47 at the Galen Center on Jan. 15 and 64-54 at the Sports Arena on Feb. 15. UCLA outrebounded USC 90-44 in the two games. USC has won four of the last seven meetings, but trails in the all-time series, 104-131.
USC AT THE PAC-12 TOURNAMENT -- USC is 13-11* all-time at the Pac-12 Tournament (one win in 2008 later vacated due to NCAA penalty). Last season USC defeated California in the quarterfinals before losing to Arizona in the semifinals. USC has won its first game in the tournament the last four times it has participated and won the Pac10 Tournament title in 2009. USC has faced UCLA only twice in the conference tournament, falling 57-54 in the 2008 semifinals and winning 65-55 in the 2009 semifinals en route to the championship.
TROJANS' RALLY FALLS SHORT AGAINST WSU -- Washington State built a 17-point second-half lead then had to hang on for a 43-38 win over USC at the Galen Center on March 3. WSU actually scored its last field goal of the game at the 9:09 mark in the second half to take a 41-26 lead, but did not score again until Reggie Moore hit two free throws with 31 seconds left. In between, USC went on a 12-0 run fueled by a pair of 3-pointers by Alexis Moore to cut the lead to 41-38 with 1:57 left. USC's Greg Allen had a chance to forge a tie with 36 seconds left, but his 3-pointer was off the mark and the Trojans were forced to foul Reggie Moore. The Cougars' Brock Motum carried WSU with 27 points, the most by a Trojan opponent this season.
PROTECTING THE BALL - The young Trojans have committed just 10.6 turnovers per game, 12th-best in the country. USC has had 9 or less turnovers in 13 of the last 16 games and has had 12 or less turnovers 23 times. USC is tops in the Pac-12 and fifth in the country with a +4.5 turnover margin. USC has committed 140 less turnovers than its opponents.
WESLEY AMONG FRESHMAN LEADERS - USC wing Byron Wesley ranks among the top Pac-12 freshmen in six different category averages: scoring (9.5, 4th), rebounds (5.0, 4th), defensive rebounds (4.2, 2nd), assists (1.8, 8th), steals (0.8, 7th) and minutes (34.5, 1st). Wesley has steadily improved, registering his top scoring games in three of the last four contests for a 17.0 average. His high-scoring game is 23 points vs. Washington on March 1.
MOJO, MAN OF STEAL - Sophomore guard Maurice Jones has 125 career steals, already ninth on the Trojans' all-time steals list. Jones' 69 steals last season set a USC freshman record and his 56 so far this season rank third all-time by a Trojan sophomore. Jones currently ranks fourth among active Pac-12 players in career steals, the only sophomore in the top 10.
MIGHTY MO - USC's Maurice Jones (38.1) is one of nine players in the country averaging 38.0 or more minutes per game. Also, Jones' 13.2 points per game average ranks 10th in the conference, but in terms of percentage of a teams' scoring, he is second in the conference at 24.9 percent. Washington State's Brock Motum leads all players, scoring 26.4 percent of the Cougars' points.
FRESHMAN FOUNDATION - USC freshmen guards Byron Wesley and Alexis Moore look to be providing the Trojans with good building blocks for the future. Through 31 games, Wesley is the third-leading scorer and third-leading rebounder on the team with averages of 9.5 and 5.0 respectively. He is also second on the team in assists with 55. Moore is seventh on the team with a 4.5 scoring average, is third on the team in three-point baskets (26) and assists (49). Wesley has started every game and his 34.5 minutes per game played are the most by a freshman in the Pac-12. Wesley's season high in points is 23 vs. Washington on March 1. Moore has started 18 times this season, including 16 of the last 22 games. Moore had a season-best 18 points on Dec. 17 vs. Georgia and has scored in double figures five times. Moore had a season-high five assists vs. Arizona on Jan. 8 and a season-best six rebounds on Jan. 28 vs. Utah.
JACKSON MEANS ACTION - Since being inserted into the starting lineup 13 games ago, sophomore Garrett Jackson has scored 10.8 points per game or 140 total points. That total is 69 more points than he had scored in USC's first 18 games while coming off the bench. In the 13 starts he ranks only behind Maurice Jones (11.8) and Byron Wesley (13.4) for points per game by a Trojan. Jackson also has 13 blocks and 14 steals in his starts.
RARE TOUGH SEASON - USC finished the inaugural Pac-12 season in 12th place. It was the first time the Trojans have placed last in the conference since finishing the 2005 season in 10th place with a 5-13 record. The 2005 season was also the last time that USC finished a season with a sub-.500 record (12-17). In the six seasons since then, USC has averaged 20 wins per season, advanced to the NCAA Tournament four times and won one conference tournament.