USC Faces Georgia For Second Time Ever On Saturday
Dec. 14, 2011
USC (4-6) will host Georgia (4-5) at the Galen Center on Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. The game will be televised live on FSN with Steve Physioc and Marques Johnson calling the action and Rebecca Haarlow providing sideline commentary. USC is 3-3 in the last six games.
BREAKING DOWN THE BULLDOGS -- The Bulldogs are coming off a 68-56 home loss vs. Georgia Tech on Dec. 7. Georgia returns eight lettermen and two starters from a team that went 21-12 during the 2010-11 season. Freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope leads Georgia with an average of 13.4 points per game. USC lost its only other meeting with Georgia 77-75 in overtime on Dec. 30, 1972 in the Quaker City Tournament in Philadelphia, Pa.
GREAT DEFENSIVE EFFORT COMES UP SHORT VS. UNM -- USC battled all the way back from an 13-point first half deficit to take a one-point lead with just over a minute and a half left in the game, but New Mexico hit four free throws down the stretch to come away with a 44-41 win at the Galen Center on Dec. 10. Maurice Jones, who had a game-high 19 points, missed a contested three-pointer from the top of the key as time expired. Dewayne Dedmon had a three-point play with 1:51 left in the game to give USC a 41-40 lead, the Trojans' first since 6-5 in the first half. USC made four more field goals than the Lobos, but was outscored from the free throw line 15-3. In fact, USC held New Mexico without a field goal in the final 14:16 of the game, but they scored 11 points from the free throw line to hang on for the win.
TCU ON DECK -- The Texas Christian Horned Frogs will play USC at the Galen Center on Dec. 19 at 7:30 p.m. TCU is 7-3 after falling in its last game 69-57 at home to Nebraska. TCU has five players averaging 9.0 or more points through 10 games, led by senior guard Hank Thorns who averages 13.5 per game. USC met TCU for the first time ever last season and lost 81-69 in Fort Worth, Texas. TCU returns three starters and eight lettermen from that team.
BE PART OF IT...MINER JERSEY TO BE RETIRED -- USC will be retiring the No. 23 uniform of Harold Miner at the Jan. 15 game vs. UCLA. Miner will be in attendance at the game and among the festivities will be a Harold Miner bobblehead giveaway to 2000 lucky fans and a Fanfest in the Hall of Fame area of the Galen Center with face painting, pop-a-shot, sign making, the Dance Force, the Song Girls, posters, video games and much more. Fans can purchase tickets to that game by calling the USC Ticket office at (213) 740-GOSC (4672) or online at www.gettrojantix.com.
A BIG HILL TO CLIMB -- When starting point guard and senior leader Jio Fontan went down with a knee injury in August it left USC with just 19.7 percent of its scoring returning and 12.4 percent of its rebounding returning entering the 2011-12 season. In terms of returning scoring for teams from BCS conferences (ACC, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12), only 3 schools: St. Johns (3.7 percent), Boston College (10.8 percent) and Texas (17.0 percent) have a lower percentage of returning production. There were only eight schools in the country which entered the season with less than 20 percent of its scoring returning from a season ago.
MIGHTY MO -- USC's Maurice Jones leads the country in minutes played per game, averaging 39.6 through the first 10 games. Only Zach Rosen of Penn (39.18) also averages more than 39 minutes per game. It is nothing new for Jones who averaged 38.4 minutes per game through 10 games last season and finished averaging 34.5 minutes played per game.
NO HAPPY RETURN FOR SMITH - USC redshirt sophomore forward Evan Smith began limited practicing on Dec. 6 and returned to action on Saturday, Dec. 10 vs. New Mexico. He was 0-for-3 (all three-pointers) in the 44-41 loss for the Trojans. Smith had last played in a game for USC on Dec. 11, 2009 vs. Idaho State. He reinjured the left glenoid labrum of his left shoulder on Oct. 18 which had previously been repaired on Dec. 23, 2010. Smith was treated with a conservative treatment plan of rest and rehabilitation, with the goal of returning Evan to basketball activity without surgical intervention. Smith played in seven games as a freshman during the 2009-10 season and then was injured before last season which required surgery and he redshirted. Smith played with USC on the trip to Brazil in August (starting 2 games), but reinjured his left shoulder a week into practice for the 2011-12 season.
TROJANS TAKE ROUTE 66 -- USC has held its opponents to an average of 54.3 points per game (7th lowest in the country) and has not allowed an opponent to score more than 66 points this season. It is the first time USC has started a season holding the opposition to 66 points or less for the first 10 games since the 1948 season when it held all 24 opponents to under 66 points.
NO DEFENSE FOR THIS -- USC has been outscored from the free throw line by 39 points in the first 10 games. USC has struggled at the charity stripe, making just 59.3 percent (89-for-150). Despite taking just eight more free throws, USC's opponents have gained 39 points behind some amazing shooting, hitting 81.0 percent (128-for-158). To put that in perspective, USC's opponents have combined to hit free throws at a rate nearly as high as the top team in the country a year ago (81.8%).
BOARD GAMES -- USC is 3-0 this season when out rebounding the opposition and 1-6 when being outrebounded. USC allowed 10 or more offensive rebounds seven times. USC was 4-11 in the games it was outrebounded last season.
IT'S A FINE LINE -- In four of USC's six losses this season, it has made more baskets than the opposition (Nebraska, SDSU, UNLV, UNM). In those four losses the Trojans were outscored 62-26 from the free throw line. In the six losses overall, USC has been outscored 80-42 from the free throw line.