USC Closes Out Nonconference Slate At Home Against Howard At Galen Sunday
Dec. 28, 2013
The USC Trojans (8-4) will host the Howard Bisons (3-12) at the Galen Center on Dec. 29 at 2 p.m. It is the final nonconference game before Pac-12 Conference play commences on Jan. 5 when USC plays at UCLA. USC's 8-4 start is its best since also beginning the 2010 season 8-4. That team went on to begin the season 10-4. If USC were to win today, the nine nonconference wins would be the most since also winning nine in 2010 and just the sixth time in the last 23 seasons the Trojans would have won nine or more nonconference games. USC is 6-0 at home this season.
PREVIEWING THE BISON - The Howard Bison (3-12) have been off since falling 77-59 at Liberty on Dec. 17. Freshman James Daniel (19.8) and junior Prince Okoroh (15.8) have led Howard in scoring this season. USC leads the all-time series 3-0, winning the last meeting 107-65 on Dec. 21, 1993. Twelve of the Bison's first 15 games have been played on the road.
HOWARD'S 3 AT OT BUZZER WINS IT AT DAYTON -- Pe'Shon Howard hit an off-balance 3-pointer from the right wing as time expired to lift USC to a 79-76 overtime victory at Dayton on Dec. 22 for USC's first nonconference road win since 2011. Howard finished with 12 points and backcourt mate Byron Wesley scored 26. Wesley tied the game twice in the final 1:45 with driving shots in the lane to force overtime. Jordan Sibert led Dayton with 21 points and five 3-pointers. Dayton threatened to put USC away in the first half with a 21-12 lead and Omar Oraby and Nikola Jovanovic on the bench with two fouls, but D.J. Haley provided USC with quality minutes to end the half and USC trailed 37-32 at the break after a controversial Flyers' basket was allowed on an inbounds play with 0.4 seconds left. The win snapped a five-game road losing streak for USC and was its first nonconference road win since Nov. 30, 2011.
PAC-12 PLAY BEGINS AT UCLA ON JAN. 5 - USC's next game will be at UCLA on Jan. 5 at noon. UCLA is 10-2 and hosts Alabama on Dec. 28 before facing USC. UCLA has been led in scoring by sophomores Jordan Adams (18.9) and Kyle Anderson (14.7). The Trojans and the Bruins square off to start conference play for the first time since opening the 1990-91 conference action at Pauley Pavilion. UCLA leads the all-time series with USC, 133-104 (one USC win in 2008 vacated). The teams have split the last 10 games and USC won the last game at UCLA, 75-71 in overtime, on Jan. 30, 2013. USC has won five of the last 11 games at Pauley (one win later vacated due to NCAA penalty).
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 281 points in USC's last 11 games (25.5 ppg). Jacobs leads the team with 53 assists and is fourth with 56 rebounds. Jovanovic is averaging 9.6 points, Jacobs 7.1, Prince 5.5 and Dukes 3.2. Jovanovic is also third on the team with 67 rebounds. USC already has 23 combined games started by the freshmen this season, after having none last 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 .769 shooting percentage from the free throw line (10 or more attempts) and is quickly establishing himself as a tough rebounder, while averaging 9.6 points per game. He has scored 65 points (13.0 ppg), pulled down 39 rebounds (7.8 rpg) and has five assists in the last five games. He posted his first career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds vs. CSUB on Dec. 15.
CLOSE SHAVES -- USC's last three games (2-1) have been decided by a total of eight points. USC has played five games this season decided by six points or less and is 4-1 in those contests.
SIGNS OF SLAM CITY -- USC had one dunk at Dayton on Dec. 22 and now has out-slammed the opposition 38-14 this season.
GETTING TO THE LINE -- USC has taken 315 free throws through 12 games for an average of 26.3 per game. Last season through 12 games, USC averaged 16.9 free throw attempts (203 total). 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 straight games from Nov. 12-21 and won three consecutive games from Nov. 30-Dec. 15 making in 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 at Dayton 42-41 but has outrebounded the opposition eight of 12 games this season for a 483-446 advantage. USC outrebounded Boston College 44-27 on Dec. 8 for its biggest advantage (+17) in a game this season.
USC A LITTLE MORE OFFENSIVE IN 2013-14 -- Through the first 12 games this season USC has scored 893 points, 142 more than through the first 12 games of the 2012-13 season, for an average of 11.8 more points per game. USC has scored 73 or more points seven times this season, after reaching that scoring plateau a total of six times last season. USC is averaging 74.4 points per game, its most since also averaging 74.4 points per game during the 2005 season.
TROJANS PAINTING A PRETTY PICTURE -- For the season USC has outscored the opposition 470-364 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), vs. CSUB (30-24), at LBSU (36-42) and at Dayton (52-32).
DEFENSE CLAMPING DOWN -- USC has held its last four opponents (including the OT game at Dayton) to an average of 67.3 points on 38.7 percent shooting (99-for-256). USC has held six of its opponents to 37.5 percent or less from the field and is 6-0 in those games.