USC To Face Colorado In First Round Of Pac-12 Tournament
March 10, 2014
The No. 12 seed USC Trojans (11-20, 2-16) will face the No. 5 seed Colorado Buffaloes (21-10, 10-8) in a Pac-12 Tournament first-round game at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 12 at 2:30 p.m. The winner of this game will play the No. 4 seed California Golden Bears on March 13 at 2:30 p.m.
BREAKING DOWN THE BUFFALOES - Colorado is coming off a 66-65 overtime loss at California on March 8 to finish in a five-way tie for third in the Pac-12 standings. By virtue of tiebreakers, they earned the No. 5 seed for the conference tournament. Colorado began the season 14-2, but then leading scorer Spencer Dinwiddie (14.7 ppg) suffered a season-ending knee injury. The Buffaloes closed their season winning seven of their final 15 games. Sophomore Josh Scott leads the active Colorado players in scoring (14.5 pg) and rebounding (8.8 rpg). Junior Askia Booker (13.7 ppg) and sophomore Xavier Johnson (12.2 ppg) are also scoring in double figures. USC lost both games against Colorado this season, falling 83-62 at Colorado on Jan. 18 and 83-74 in Los Angeles on Feb. 16. USC trails the all-time series 3-6 and has never faced Colorado in the Pac-12 Tournament. The only time USC and Colorado have met in the postseason was in the 1940 NCAA Tournament first round and USC won that game, 38-32.
USC FALLS IN SEASON FINALE AT WASHINGTON -- USC led 37-35 at halftime, but Washington scored the first 15 points of the second half and 22 of the first 25 to go on to an 82-75 win. USC would regroup, trailing 64-49 with 9:28 remaining, the Trojans went on an 18-8 run to cut it to five points with 4:41 left in the game, but could get no closer. USC had nine first-half turnovers and four early in the second half, but only one the rest of they way as it mounted its comeback. Nikola Jovanovic led USC with 21 points and Bryon Wesley chipped in with 19.
THE DECEPTIVE 10 -- USC lost 10 consecutive games from Jan. 26 until winning 79-68 at Washington State on March 6. The 10-game losing streak was its longest since falling in the final 10 games of the 2012 season. At first glance at the 10-game losing streak, including the final scores, would make you think USC was out most of the games early, but the reverse was actually the truth. USC 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 lost the games by an average score of 68.2-78.9 (-10.7 ppg). USC committed 48 more fouls and scored 43 less points from the free throw line in the 10 games. USC also committed 27 more turnovers and made 26 less three-pointers than its opponent in the streak.
USC AT THE PAC-12 TOURNAMENT - USC is 12-13 all-time at the Pac-12 Tournament with a win in 2008 vacated due to NCAA penalty. USC lost 69-66 to Utah as the No. 7 seed last season and has lost its last three Pac-12 Tourney games.
IMPACT FRESHMEN -- Freshmen Julian Jacobs and Nikola Jovanovic are quietly posting two of the better USC freshmen seasons in awhile. Jacobs' 113 assists are 4th in a single season by a Trojan freshman. He also is tied for 10th among USC freshman all-time with 33 steals. Jovanovic is 8th in free throw percentage (.761) and has the 10th-best field goal percentage (.516) by a Trojan freshman. Entering play this week, among Pac-12 freshmen Jovanovic ranked 8th in scoring and 4th in rebounding, while leading all conference freshmen in shooting percentage. Jacobs was 11th in scoring, 6th in rebounding, T-1st 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 10 games has averaged 19.9 points (199 total). He surpassed the 1,000 career points plateau on Feb. 1 at Oregon and now has 1,144 career points, 24th on USC's all-time scoring list. Next up on the charts are Errick Craven in 23rd (1,159) and Allen Young in 22nd (1,168). Wesley is the only Pac-12 player this season leading his team in both scoring and rebounding averages. Wesley ranks sixth in scoring and is 15th in rebounding among Pac-12 players this season. He also ranks ninth among active conference players in career points scored. Wesley has scored 510 points this season, tied for the 19th-best single season scoring total in history by a Trojan.
SIGNS OF SLAM CITY -- USC was held without a dunk on March 8 at Washington, but has out-slammed the opposition 73-48 this season. USC has nine 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 751 free throws through 31 games this season, after taking a total of 547 last season. USC has struggled at the free throw line this season (67.0 percent) with seven games under 60.0 percent from the charity stripe. In the last seven games, however, USC has made 73.0 percent of its free throws (119-for-163). In the last 14 games USC has been called for 64 more fouls (303-239) and the opposition has taken 67 more free throws (389-322).
SECOND HALF STRUGGLES RESURFACE -- When USC outscored Washington State 44-32 in the second half on March 6 it made 54.2 percent of its shots, 44.4 percent from three-point range, a big change from what had been happening after the break and resulted in a win. In the previous 10 games and the loss at Washington on March 8, USC had been outscored after the break (including overtime) 485-402. In those 11 games USC made 39.7 percent (135-for-340) of its shots after the break, including 25.5 percent from three-point range (24-for-94). Included in that stretch, the opposition has had nine runs of at least 10-0 in the second half, including 15 to start the second half by Washington on March 8.
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 12 games he has averaged 12.5 points (150 total), 3.2 rebounds (38 total) and 3.8 assists (45 total). Howard has been heating up from beyond the arc, too, making 10-for-21 (47.6 percent) from three-point range the last six games.