No. 23 USC Faces No. 4 North Carolina In NCAA East Region Semifinals
March 20, 2007
LOS ANGELES -- The No. 5 seed USC men's basketball team (25-11) will face No. 1 seed North Carolina (30-6) on March 23 at the Continental Arena in East Rutherford, N.J. in the East Region semifinals of the 2007 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. The game is scheduled to start 30 minutes following the conclusioin of the first East Region semifinal game between Vanderbilt and Georgetown which begins at 7:27 ET. USC has established a new school record in victories this season with 25. The previous mark of 24 wins was done four times: 24-2 in 1971, 24-5 in 1974, 24-6 in 1992 and 24-10 in 2001.
TROJANS IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT -- USC is 11-14 all-time in the NCAA tournament (2-0 in 2007), winning five of its last seven games during March Madness. This is the Trojans' first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since the 2002 season. That season USC entered as a No. 4 seed and lost 93-89 in overtime to No. 13 seed UNC-Wilmington in Sacramento, Calif. In 2001, USC advanced to the Elite Eight as a No. 6 seed, defeating Oklahoma State, Boston College and Kentucky, before falling to eventual champion Duke in the regional final. This is USC's 13th appearance in the NCAA Tournament (1940, 1954, 1960, 1961, 1979, 1982, 1985, 1991, 1992, 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2007). The farthest the Trojans have gone in the NCAA Tournament is to the semifinals in 1940 and 1954.
SCOUTING NORTH CAROLINA -- North Carolina defeated Michigan State 81-67 in its second-round game on March 17, as sophomore Tyler Hansbrough scored 33 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Hansbrough averages 18.6 points to lead the Tar Heels. North Carolina has won six consecutive games, including the ACC Tournament. USC is 1-7 all-time against the Tar Heels, winning 74-59 on Dec. 21 last season at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. North Carolina defeated USC in the 1952, 1955, 1982, 1988, 1997, 2000 and 2005 seasons.
ON DECK -- The winner of the USC-UNC game will play on March 25 in East Rutherford, N.J. against the winner of the Vanderbilt-Georgetown game for a spot in the NCAA Final Four being held in Atlanta, March 30-April 1.
TROJANS GRAB TEXAS BY THE HORNS, ADVANCE TO SWEET 16 -- USC defeated Texas 87-68 on March 18 in Spokane, Wash. to advance to the East Region semifinals. The Trojans never trailed in the game and were last tied at 5-all, before going on a 12-2 run which saw four different players score and three different players get a steal during that stretch. USC led 34-27 at halftime before Texas cut it to 34-30, 40 seconds into the second half. The Trojans responded with a 19-3 run, keyed by nine points from junior Nick Young, to take a 53-33 lead with14 minutes left and led by double figures the rest of the way. Young had 22 points to lead five Trojans in double figures. Freshmen Daniel Hackett scored a career-high 20 points and Taj Gibson had a double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds.
USC AGAINST THE NCAA FIELD -- USC has faced 10 different teams that appeared in the 2007 NCAA Tournament and owns an 11-7 record against them: Arizona (2-0), Arkansas (1-0), George Washington (1-0), Kansas (0-1), Long Beach State (1-0), Oregon (2-1), Stanford (2-1), Texas (1-0), UCLA (0-2) and Washington State (1-2).
RISING UP THROUGH THE RANKS -- USC's defeat of No. 11 Texas on March 18 gives it an 8-4 record vs. Top 25 teams this season.
IN TIM WE TRUST -- The arrival of head coach Tim Floyd brought great excitement to the USC campus and with good reason. Floyd has an impressive track record in the collegiate ranks along with his NBA experience. He brings 18 years of head coaching experience at the collegiate and NBA levels and owns a 285-154 record in his 14 seasons as a college head coach at Idaho (1987-88), New Orleans (1989-94), Iowa State (1995-98) and USC (2006-07). His record at USC is 42-24. Nine of his first 14 seasons, Floyd has taken his team into the postseason (6 NCAA, 3 NIT). Floyd has helped the development of his student-athletes at each stop, as 10 players in his 13 years have made it to the NBA, including three players that did not even play high school ball. Floyd has a 6-5 record as a coach in the NCAA Tournament. This is the second time he has guided a team to the NCAA Sweet 16, as he led Iowa State to two victories in the 1997 tournament. Floyd has faced North Carolina one time in the NCAA Tournament, with his Iowa State team falling 73-51 in the 1995 second round.
FLOYD MOST WINS BY A TROJAN COACH IN FIRST TWO SEASONS -- USC head coach Tim Floyd has a 42-24 record in his first 66 games at the helm for the Trojans. His victory total surpasses Leo Calland (1928-29) for the most by a USC head coach in his first two seasons.
1st yr. 2nd yr. Total Pct. Tim Floyd (2006-07) 17-13 25-11 42-24 .636 Leo Calland (1928-29) 22-4 16-6 38-10 .792 Forrest Twogood (1951-52) 21-6 16-14 37-20 .649TAKING A DEFENSIVE STAND -- USC has held 20 of 36 opponents this season to under 40 percent shooting and 26 of 36 to a 42 percent or less shooting percentage. Only California (51.9 percent on Jan. 27), Arizona (50 percent on Feb. 15), Washington (52.0 percent on March 1) and Oregon (53.6 percent on March 10) have hit at least 50 percent of their shots against USC's defense. USC has held the opposition under 40 percent shooting in 30 of the 66 games Tim Floyd has been the head coach (45.6 percent), whereas in the previous two seasons, they accomplished the feat 8 times in 57 games (14 percent). USC has held the opposition to a 39.0 shooting percentage in 2007.
MAKING THEIR SHOTS COUNT -- USC is shooting .477 from the field this season (920-for-1927). The last time USC finished a season with a higher shooting percentage was in 1985 when it had a .487 shooting percentage. The .477 shooting percentage this season is tied for eighth best in school history. USC has outshot the opponent in terms of percentage in 30 of the 36 games (not vs. South Carolina, at Stanford, at ASU, at UW, vs. Stanford at Pac-10s and vs. Oregon at the Pac-10s). USC has also shot 50 percent or better in a game 15 times, while allowing its opponent to shoot 50 percent or better just four times.
HOLDING THEM DOWN WITH "D" -- USC has held 11 opponents to under 60 points this season. It is the most games in a season that the Trojans have held the opposition to 59 points or less since accomplishing the feat 13 times in 1987.
ANOTHER FRESHMAN SCHOOL RECORD FOR GIBSON -- Freshman Taj Gibson had eight rebounds on Feb. 22 to give him 234 this season, a new USC freshman single-season record. The previous record for most rebounds in a season by a Trojan freshman was 231 by Cliff Robinson in 1978. Gibson has registered eight or more rebounds in 26 of 36 games and now has 309 this season. His rebound total of 309 ranks as the fifth best season by an individual in USC history.
HOW GOOD HAS GIBSON BEEN? -- On March 18 vs. Texas Taj Gibson picked up his 10th double-double of the season with 17 points, 14 rebounds and a block. He has cracked the all-time USC freshman season top 10s in rebounds (1st with 309), free throws attempted (1st with 164), free throws made (3rd with 102), points (4th with 436), blocks (1st with 65) and field goal percentage (5th with .557). Also, his 8.6 rebounds per game average is second best all-time as a freshman at USC to Cliff Robinson's 9.6 in 1978.
STEWART SHOOTS DOWN SCHOOL RECORD -- Senior Lodrick Stewart made four three-pointers on Feb. 24 vs. Cal to give him 220 in his career, breaking the USC career three-point baskets made record of 218 which had been held by Brandon Granville (1999-02). Stewart now has made 74 of 168 three-point shots this season for a .440 percentage. The 74 makes rank fifth all-time for a single season at USC.
THE SECOND CENTURY OF HOOPS AT USC -- The Trojans are beginning their second century of intercollegiate basketball and have a 1,416-1,016 record. The Trojans have had a .500 or better record in 71 of the first 100 seasons.
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME -- USC won its last six home games and finished 15-3 the first season at the Galen Center. The last time USC won more home games in a season was in 1961 when they went 16-3 at home. USC's loss to Washington State on Dec. 30 snapped a nine-game home winning streak, following the season-opening overtime loss to South Carolina on Nov. 16. The last time USC won more consecutive home games in a season was during the 2000-01 campaign when it won the first 10. USC's home losses this season were an overtime loss (South Carolina) and two games in which the Trojans led with five seconds left in the game (Washington State and UCLA).
PAC-10 PRESEASON RANKINGS -- USC was 11-7 in the Pac-10 this season, tied for third, but beat both teams they tied with (Oregon and Arizona) twice in the regular season. The Trojans were picked to finish in sixth place in the Pac-10 conference. UCLA was picked to win the conference with 335 votes, followed by Arizona (280), Washington (236), Oregon (193), California (177), USC (160), Stanford (127), Oregon State (75), Arizona State (69) and Washington State (54).
PRUITT BACK ON TRACK -- All-Pac-10 guard Gabe Pruitt played in his first game on Dec. 22 following a semester of academic ineligibility, but was a combined 0-6 from the field with two points in his first two games. He has started the 23 games since then and shined. He scored 18 points, grabbed three rebounds, dished out a game-high six assists and had a steal in his first start on Dec. 28 vs. Washington. In his 23 starts, he has averaged 13.4 points (309 total), 4.5 assists (103 total), 1.8 steals (41 total) and 2.9 rebounds (67 total). In USC's last 10 games, Pruitt has combined to score 149 points, grab 35 rebounds, dish out 53 assists and make 21 steals.
RISING UP THE BLOCK EXCHANGE -- USC had eight blocks in the 71-68 win vs. Oregon on Feb. 3, including three staight in a 28 second stretch after the Trojans had taken a 63-60 lead. USC had a season-high nine blocks in the game on Jan. 4 at Oregon. USC's total of 141 blocks this season are the third most in school history. Taj Gibson leads the Trojans and is second among Pac-10 players with 65 blocks, senior Abdoulaye N'diaye has 18 and sophomore RouSean Cromwell has 17. Gibson had seven blocks on Jan. 4 at Oregon, tying him for the fourth best single-game total by a Trojan.
GIBSON MADE SUDDEN IMPACT -- Trojan freshman forward Taj Gibson had 18 rebounds on Nov. 24 vs. Long Beach State, the most by a Trojan since Jeff McMillan also had 18 rebounds on Feb. 25, 2004 vs. UCLA. The last Trojan with more rebounds in a game was David Bluthenthal who tied the school record with 28 on Jan. 20, 2000 vs. Arizona State. Bluthenthal tied Cliff Robinson's school and freshman record of 28 rebounds set on Jan. 20, 1978 vs. Portland State. Gibson had eight double-doubles (points-rebounds) in his first 16 games, and has pickedu up two more in the postseason (March 8 vs. Stanford and March 18 vs. Texas). He scored in double figures in his first 5 games, the first USC freshman to score in double digits in his first 5 collegiate games since Tom Lewis during the 1985-86 season (first nine games). He has reached double figures in scoring in 26 of 36 games and has scored at least eight points in 32 of 36 games.
THAT'S A LOD OF POINTS -- Senior Lodrick Stewart reached the 1,000 points scored mark on Nov. 24 against Long Beach when he made a layup 2 minutes into the second half. He finished that night with 16 points. He currently has 1,451 career points, ranking him 9th all-time on USC's scoring list. He poured in a career-high 28 on Jan. 6 at OSU.
STEWART SETS SCHOOL RECORD -- Lodrick Stewart made all six three-point shots he attempted on Jan. 6 at Oregon State, the most three-pointers made in a single game by a Trojan with out a miss. The previous best by a USC player had been five by Brad Winslow (1987) and Errick Craven (2002). The six shots made from beyond the arc tied his career best set on Dec. 2 this season vs. LMU. He is 74-for-168 from beyond the arc on the season (.440) and has a career three-point shooting percentage of .400 (229-for-573).
THE BATTLE OF THE BOARDS -- USC outrebounded Texas 43-35 on March 18 and has outrebounded 16 of its 36 opponents. Last season USC outrebounded the opposition in just eight of 30 games. The Trojans had 47 rebounds in the opener (most since getting 50 in the 2005-06 opener) and 40 in their second game, the first time USC had recorded back-to-back games of 40 or more rebounds since Dec. 3 and Dec. 6, 2003. The 58 rebounds USC collected on Nov. 24 vs. LBSU were its most in a game since also grabbing 58 boards on Feb. 27, 1997 vs. Oregon. USC has a 82-61 advantage on the glass in the first two games of the NCAA Tournament.
SOMETIMES TWO CAN BE BETTER THAN THREE -- USC averaged 19 three-pointers per game last season and took a conference-high 20.4 per Pac-10 game in 2005-06. USC is averaging 14.0 three-point shots per game this season, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Last season when USC took 15 or less shots from behind the arc, they were 8-1 and are 17-5 this season. USC is 8-6 this season when taking more than 15 three-point shots in a game. USC tied a season high with 10 three-point baskets on March 9 vs. WSU.
DEFENDING THE THREE -- Despite Oregon hitting 14 three-pointers and shooting 48.3 percent from beyond the arc on March 10, USC has held its opponents to 31.3 percent shooting from three-point range this season (245-for-784). Conversely, USC has a .400 percentage from three-point range this season and led the conference with a .409 percentage in Pac-10 games.
FORTIFIED BY FRESHMEN -- The Trojan freshman are playing a big role for USC and have combined to start 63 times. First-year player Taj Gibson is the only Trojan to start all 36 games this season. Gibson leads the team in rebounding (8.6) and is fourth in scoring (12.1). The Trojans have six freshmen on the squad (one redshirting) and they have combined to score 35.3 percent of USC's points and have played 40.8 percent of the team's minutes.
N0THING FOUL ABOUT THIS SHOOTING -- The Trojans hit 33 of 38 foul shots (86.8 percent) on Dec. 9 vs. George Washington, their most made free throws in a game since also making 33 on Jan. 20, 2000 vs. Arizona State. USC has made 71.4 percent of its free throws this season. USC has shot better than 70 percent from the free throw line just one season (2001) in the last 20 years.
HOW RARE WAS THAT COMEBACK? -- USC's comeback from a 20-point deficit in the second half (38-18) to win 74-65 vs. George Washington at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. on Dec. 9 was the biggest since also staging a 20-point second-half comeback vs. BYU (down 23-43) on Dec. 23, 2000 to win 70-67. It was just the third time in the last 15 seasons that USC came back from a 20-point deficit to win, the other being Dec. 7, 1996 at UNC Charlotte.
YOUNG SHOOTING UP THE CHARTS -- Junior swingman Nick Young's tip-in one minute into the game on Dec. 19 vs. Longwood was his 1,000th career point, the 31st Trojan to reach the 1,000 career points scored plateau. Young joined teammate Lodrick Stewart who eclipsed the 1,000 career points total on Nov. 24 vs. Long Beach State. He now has scored 1,471 career points to rank 8th on USC's all-time list, 12 behind Derrick Dowell. Young has scored 632 points this season, fifth-best single season point total in school history, 13 points behind John Rudometkin (1961). Young has reached double figures in points in his last 24 games and in 33 of 36 games this season.
TURNING AROUND THE TURNOVERS -- USC has had as many or more assists as turnovers in 14 of the last 24 games after accomplishing that feat once in the first 12 games. In the last 24 games, USC has 302 assists and 274 turnovers, but the total for the season is 459 assists and 522 turnovers. USC has averaged 11.4 turnovers per game in the last 24, after averaging 19.8 in the first 12 games.
TROY'S TERRIFIC TRIO -- The Trojan trio of Nick Young, Lodrick Stewart and Gabe Pruitt combined for 60 points in the loss at Washington State on March 3. It was the fifth time in their careers that the trio combined for over 60 points in a game. They also combined to score 69 at Arizona on Feb. 15, 2007, 64 vs. Arizona on Jan. 18, 2007, 63 vs. Arizona on Feb. 2, 2006 and 60 at Oregon on Jan. 28, 2006. The trio had each reached double figures in scoring in seven consecutive games from Jan. 27-Feb. 22. They have combined to score 703 points and average 46.9 points in the last 15 games. Also, all three players have reached the 1,000 career points scored mark during this season.
TROJANS FALL SHORT OF RARE FEAT -- It took until the final two regular season games, but USC lost consecutive games for the first time this season. The double-overtime defeat at Washington State kept USC from going through regular season play without back-to-back losses for the first time since the 1974 season. USC had been one of 16 NCAA teams not to lose consecutive games this season.
SHARP-SHOOTING STEWART -- Senior guard Lodrick Stewart led all players in Pac-10 players in 2007 with a .483 shooting percentage from three-point range. He has been hitting at a .479 clip (45-for-94) over USC's last 21 games.
YOUNG GETS HONORS AGAIN -- For the second consecutive season, Nick Young was a first-team selection to the All-Dictrict 15 team by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, first-team selection to the All-District 9 team by the U.S. Basketball Writer's Association and All-Pac-10 First Team, as voted on by Pac-10 head coaches.
ALL-AROUND EFFORT FROM YOUNG -- Junior Nick Young finished the regular season second among Pac-10 players in scoring (17.5), fifth in field goal percentage (.535), fourth in three-point percentage (.438) and fourth in total minutes played (1,025).
GIBSON NAMED TO PAC-10 ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM -- USC freshman forward Taj Gibson was one of six players selected to the 2007 Pac-10 All-Freshman team. Gibson's solid first season sees his named littered up and down the conference leader charts. Gibson is fourth among Pac-10 players in rebounds with an 8.4 average (1st among freshmen), tops in field goal percentage at .564 (1st among freshmen), second in blocks with 64 (2nd among freshmen) and second in defensive rebounds with 202 (1st among freshmen).
PRUITT JOINS 1,000 POINT CLUB -- Junior guard Gabe Pruitt scored 13 points on March 1 at Washington to give him 1,000 points exactly in his career, joining teammates senior Lodrick Stewart and junior Nick Young in the 1,000 career points scored club. Pruitt became the 32nd Trojan in history and third this season to reach 1,000 career points when he scored a layup with 4:12 left in the game to cut it to six points. Pruitt scored a season-high 26 points on March 9 vs. Washington State in the Pac-10 semifinals.
GIBSON AND FLOYD GET ACCOLADES -- Taj Gibson was selected as the Player of the Week (Jan. 1-7) by ESPN.com and TheSportingNews.com. He scored 18 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked seven shots in an 84-82 win at previously unbeaten Oregon, then scored 20 points in the 91-46 win at Oregon State. Head coach Tim Floyd was named Coach of the Week on Dick Vitale's website.
YOUNG NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK -- Junior swingman Nick Young was named U.S. Bank Pac-10 Player of the Week for Jan. 15-21, as he led USC to a sweep of the Arizona schools. Young averaged 24 points and 5.5 rebounds in the two games, including scoring 30 points in the 80-73 win over then No. 11 Arizona on Jan. 18.
GIBSON SET THE SCHOOL FRESHMAN BLOCKS RECORD - Lost among the many blocks at Maples Pavilion on Jan. 25 was that USC freshman Taj Gibson swatted three more shots to bring his season total at the time to 44 blocks, the most ever by a USC freshman. The previous school record for blocks by a freshman was 43 by Ken Johnson in 1982. He has upped his record to 65.
TROJANS NO STRANGER TO TIGHT CONTESTS -- USC is 7-4 in games decided by five points or less following the 83-79 overtime win vs. Stanford on March 9. The Trojans are also 6-2 in games decided by 6-10 points and have won 13 games decided by 10 points or less (13-6), tied for most among Pac-10 teams. Oregon is 13-4 in the close games with two of the losses coming at the hands of USC (2 points and 3 points).
A DEFENSIVE PERSPECTIVE -- Everyone knows by now that USC is holding opponents to a .390 field goal percentage, among the best in the country. What you might not know is that the last time USC finished the season with as good of a field goal defense percentage was in 1963 when they also held opponents to a .390 shooting percentage. The 2007 team's .390 percentage is tied for sixth best in USC history.
CAROLINA ON MY MIND... -- The last time USC lost in the NCAA Tournament was to UNC-Wilmington in 2002. In 2001 NCAA Tournament, USC lost to Duke from Durham, N.C. The Trojans' previous NCAA appearance was in 1997 and USC lost to Illinois in the first round, but where was the game played you may wonder...Charlotte, N.C.
NOT A RANK AND FILE SEASON -- USC's .400 three-point shooting percentage is the best in school history, the previous best was .378 in 1992. The .714 free throw percentage is seventh best in school history. Some other marks that USC is close to eclipsing are the most points in a season (29 needed to beat the 2001 team) and most field goals made in a season (16 needed to surpass the 1975 team).
THIS AND THAT... -- Taj Gibson's 14 rebounds vs. Texas were the most by a Trojan in an NCAA contest since Doug Widtfeldt also had 14 in the 1979 first round vs. Utah State. USC is 20-7 when leading at halftime and 10-1 when scoring 80 or more points. USC has held the opposition to 25 percent or less from beyond the arc 12 times this season. Nick Young has led USC in scoring 20 times this season.