USC Travels To Long Beach To Face 49ers
Dec. 18, 2013
The USC Trojans (7-3) will take on the Long Beach State 49ers (1-9) at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, Calif. on Dec. 19 at 7:30 p.m. USC has won seven of its last nine games and the 7-3 start is its best since also starting the 2009 season at 7-3 (that team started 10-3). USC is 0-1 on the road this season and has lost four straight games on the road dating back to last season. USC's last road win was Feb. 14, 2013 at Stanford. USC is 2-11 in its last 13 nonconference road games. USC's last nonconference road win was at UC Riverside on Nov. 30, 2011.
PREVIEWING LONG BEACH STATE - The 49ers are 1-9 and have not played since falling 76-66 at North Carolina State on Dec. 7. That loss was the 49ers ninth in a row in a tough stretch of playing teams like Arizona, VCU, Michigan and Kansas State. Long Beach State has been led in scoring by junior guard Mike Caffey who is averaging 16.0 points per game. USC leads the all-time series 8-5, winning the last four games. USC won 62-44 in the last meeting on Nov. 13, 2012. The last time USC played at Long Beach State was an 86-68 win on Dec. 12, 2001. In that game, current USC radio analyst Brandon Granville scored 25 points, making six three-pointers.
USC TOES THE LINE IN WIN OVER CSUB -- Byron Wesley scored 20 points, making a pair of go-ahead free throws with 1:02 remaining, and USC rallied to beat CSU Bakersfield 63-59 on Dec. 15 after trailing most of the second half. USC finished the game on a 9-1 run, with all of the points coming from the free throw line. USC made 9 of 12 from the line in the final 2:25 to sneak away with the win. Wesley made 12 of 14 free throws, with the Trojans hitting 30 of 46 from the line. A pair of free throws by D.J. Haley tied the game at 58-all before Wesley's pair gave the Trojans a 60-58 lead. Nikola Jovanovic posted his first double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Trojans who improved to 6-0 at home.
TRIP TO DAYTON ON DECK - The Dayton Flyers are 8-2 and will host Iona on Dec. 19 before facing USC at home on Dec. 22 at 2 p.m. ET at the University of Dayton Arena. USC and Dayton met for the first time last year in Los Angeles and the Trojans won that game 63-61 in overtime on Dec. 30. The last time USC played at the University of Dayton Arena was on March 16, 2011 when it lost to VCU in a First Four game of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Guard Jordan Sibert (13.2), forward Devin Oliver (12.5) and guard Vee Sanford (10.0) are all averaging double figures in scoring for the Flyers this season.
FRESHMEN DOING FINE -- USC's scholarship freshmen group of guards Julian Jacobs and Kahlil Dukes and forwards Nikola Jovanovic and Roschon Prince have combined to score 239 points in USC's last nine games (26.6 ppg). Jacobs leads the team with 45 assists and is fourth with 49 rebounds. Jovanovic is averaging 9.1 points, Jacobs 6.8, Prince 6.5 and Dukes 3.8. Jovanovic is also third on the team with 53 rebounds. USC already has 18 combined games started by the freshmen this season, after having none last season.
SIGNS OF SLAM CITY -- USC had one dunk vs. CSU Bakersfield on Dec. 15 and now has out-slammed the opposition 33-11 this season.
NIKOLA 2.0 -- Freshman Nikola Jovanovic can't help but draw comparisons to another Nikola who played for USC, Orlando Magic star Nikola Vucevic. Jovanovic has been given a chance to play more earlier in his career and has already scored more points that Vucevic did his entire freshman season. Jovanovic is leading USC with a .870 shooting percentage from the free throw line and is quickly establishing himself as a tough rebounder, while averaging 9.1 points per game. He has scored 41 points, pulled down 25 rebounds and has five assists in the last three games. He posted his first career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds vs. CSUB on Dec. 15.
GETTING TO THE LINE -- USC has taken 273 free throws through 10 games for an average of 27.3 per game. Last season through 10 games, USC averaged 17.1 free throw attempts. USC opponents this season have taken 19.7 free throws per game.
HOT AT HOME - USC has won its first six home games this season, the most consecutive home wins to start a season since winning the first eight home games of the 2009 season. Dating back to the 2012-13 season, USC has won eight consecutive home games.
RARE STREAKS -- USC won four games from Nov. 12-21 and has won its last three games making it the first time since the 2009-10 season that the Trojans have had two winning streaks of three or more games.
BATTLE OF THE BOARDS -- USC was outrebounded by CSU Bakersfield 37-33 on Dec. 15 and won for the first time this season (1-2) when losing the "glass game." USC outrebounded Boston College 44-27 on Dec. 8 for its biggest advantage (+17) in a game this season. USC has outrebounded the opposition seven of 10 games this season for a 402-367 advantage.
USC A LITTLE MORE OFFENSIVE IN 2013-14 -- Through the first 10 games this season USC has scored 743 points, 102 more than through the first 10 games of the 2012-13 season, for an average of 10.2 more points per game. USC has scored 73 or more points six times this season, after reaching that scoring plateau a total of six times last season.
TROJANS PAINTING A PRETTY PICTURE -- For the season USC has outscored the opposition 382-290 in points in the paint: at Utah State (36-36), vs. CSUN (50-26), vs. NAU (42-22), vs. CSUF (36-30), vs. West Alabama (32-20), vs. Villanova (49-30), vs. Wake Forest (33-34), vs. Xavier (36-46), vs. BC (38-22) and vs. CSUB (30-24).
DEFENSE CLAMPING DOWN -- USC has held its last two opponents to an average of 60.5 points on 36.7 percent shooting (44-for-120). USC has held five of its opponents to 37.5 percent or less from the field and is 5-0 in those games.
WESLEY THE ONE CONSTANT -- Since USC wing Byron Wesley arrived on campus as a freshman for the 2011-12 season, he has been the one constant on the team. He is the only remaining player from that recruiting class at USC and the only remaining scholarship player from that team. As a freshman he quietly ranked among the top Pac-12 freshmen in six different category averages: scoring (9.6), rebounds (5.1), defensive rebounds (4.2), assists (1.8), steals (0.8) and minutes (34.6). Last season as a sophomore, he ranked third on the team in scoring (10.2) and rebounding (4.3), second in minutes (31.9) and assists (61 total). He improved on his shooting and expanded his repertoire to include the three-point shot, making 17 in conference play and finishing one make away from qualifying to lead the conference in three-point shooting percentage at .486 (17-for-35). Wesley opened the 2013-14 season with 15 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists at Utah State on Nov. 8 and then logged his first double-double with 16 points and a career-high 11 rebounds vs. CSUN on Nov. 12. He followed that up with a career-high 31 points vs. NAU on Nov. 15. The 31 points are a Galen Center record (O.J. Mayo had 32, but player participation was later vacated due to NCAA penalty). In the game on Nov. 19 vs. CSUF, Wesley led the Trojans with 22 points and 9 rebounds. He scored 15 points and had 10 rebounds vs. Villanova on Nov. 28 for his second career double-double. Among Pac-12 players, he currently ranks among the Pac-12's top 15 in scoring (17.3), rebounding (7.3) and minutes per game (34.2). Wesley led USC with 20 points in the win vs. CSUB on Dec. 15, his team-leading third 20-point game.