USC Opens Pac-12 Play At No.10 Utah On Jan. 2|
Dec. 31, 2014
The USC Trojans (8-4) will play the Utah Runnin' Utes (10-2) at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Jan. 2 at 7 p.m. (PT) in the Pac-12 opener for both teams. The game will air on ESPNU and AM 690. USC has won six of its last seven games.
BREAKING DOWN UTAH -- Utah defeated Carroll College 85-49 on Dec. 30 to improve to 10-2, 8-0 at home. Junior guard Delon Wright leads the Utes with a 15.8 scoring average and 5.3 assists per game. Utah averages 76.1 points per game and has scored at least 80 points seven times. The Utes also have held opponents to 56.9 points per game and 36.6 percent shooting. USC has lost its last three games against Utah and the all-time series is tied, 17-17.
USC CLOSES NONCONFERENCE SLATE WITH WIN OVER VERMONT -- Strahinja Gavrilovic scored a career-high 15 points, making 9 of 12 free throws, Katin Reinhardt added 11 and USC defeated Vermont 64-56 at the Galen Center on Dec. 30. Nikola Jovanovic had 12 points and 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double as the Trojans won for the sixth time in seven games. Kurt Steidl scored 18 points for Vermont. USC led 43-26 at the half and by 18 at 54-36 with 14 minutes to go, but the Catamounts scored the next 12 points to pull within six with just under 10 minutes to go. The closest Vermont would get was four points with 2:11 to go, but the Trojans held on. USC held Vermont to a season-low 30.2 shooting and forced 17 turnovers. USC had only four turnovers in the first half, but committed 11 in the second half. USC tied a season high with eight blocks in the game, with six players recording at least one. They also tied a season high to date with 11 steals. USC outscored Vermont 42-26 on points in the paint and outrebounded the Catamounts 42-40, its eighth consecutive game winning the battle of the boards. USC made just one three-pointer and it came with seven minutes left in the game, as the Trojans took a season-low seven shots from beyond the arc.
ON DECK, GAME AT COLORADO -- USC's next game will be at Colorado (7-5) on Jan. 4 in Boulder, Colo. at 11 a.m. (PT). The Buffaloes are coming off a 69-66 loss at Hawai'i on Dec. 25 in the Diamond Head Classic and will host UCLA on Jan. 2 before taking on the Trojans. Askia Booker leads Colorado with a 15.3 scoring average for the season, 19.0 in the last five games. Colorado also has Josh Scott (14.8 ppg) and Xavier Johnson (13.5 ppg) averaging in double figures. Three of Colorado's losses have been by three points or less. Colorado defeated USC three times last season, including 59-56 in the Pac-12 Tournament first round. Colorado has won the last five meetings and leads the all-time series 7-3.
SCORING IS SOARING -- USC has scored 75 or more points in four of its last five games and has averaged 76.4 points per game in that stretch. USC averaged 62.3 points per game in the first seven contests. USC's scoring 75 or more points in four consecutive games (Dec. 3-21) was the first time it had accomplished the feat since Nov. 30-Dec. 9, 2003.
J-MAC ON THE ATTACK -- Freshman guard Jordan McLaughlin has averaged 16.4 points in the last five games (82 total) and leads USC this season with a 13.3 scoring average. He also has 25 assists, 18 rebounds and eight steals in the five games, while making 10 three-pointers.
JOVANOVIC SURGING, TOO -- Sophomore forward Nikola Jovanovic has scored in double figures the last seven games. In the seven games he has four double-doubles and averaged 14.3 points (100 total) and 10.4 rebounds (73 total).
DAUNTING TASK -- USC opens up conference play at Utah and Colorado, the teams picked to finish second and third in the Pac-12 respectively in the preseason media poll. Utah is 8-0 and Colorado 6-1 at home. USC was 1-8 in conference road games last season and is 1-11 in its last 12 Pac-12 road contests. The Trojans have also lost their last five Pac-12 road openers.
R0AD WARRIORS? -- USC has won its last three nonconference road games, at Dayton on Dec. 22, 2013 (79-76 in OT), at New Mexico on Nov. 30, 2014 (66-54) and at Boston College on Dec. 21, 2014 (75-71). The last time USC won three or more consecutive nonconference road games was in 2001 when it won four straight at Bradley (60-50) on Dec. 1, at Long Beach State (86-68) on Dec. 12, at San Diego (76-67 in OT) on Dec. 20 and at LMU (81-67) on Dec. 22. The Trojans have won consecutive road games (at New Mexico and at Boston College) (conference or nonconference) for the first time since Jan. 30, 2013 at UCLA (75-71 in OT) and Feb. 14, 2013 at Stanford (65-64). The last time USC won three or more consecutive road games was in the 2008 season when it won four straight conference road games.
THE DEFENSE NEVER RESTS -- USC has held seven of 12 opponents this season to 40 percent shooting or less, for a combined 38.9 shooting percentage. Last season, USC's opponents had a combined field goal percentage of 43.0 percent.
SUDDEN IMPACT -- Freshman Jordan McLaughlin leads USC with a scoring average of 13.3 points. He also leads USC in assists (62), steals (20), free throws made/attempted (40/62) and is tied for the most three-pointers made (17). USC's freshman class of McLaughlin, Malik Martin, Elijah Stewart and Malik Marquetti has scored 37.2 percent of the Trojans' points this season (304 of 818). When you add in redshirt sophomores Katin Reinhardt and Darion Clark who are playing their first season for the Trojans, 63.4 percent (519 of 818) of USC's points are from newcomers.
NO SO FREE THROW LINE -- USC was 15-for-28 (.536) from the free throw line in the overtime loss to Army on Dec. 13. USC has made only 60.4 percent of its free throws in the last seven games (90-for-149). USC is shooting 62.0 percent from the free throw line this season and has only topped 70 percent in one of its first 12 games (70.6 percent vs. Tennessee Tech on Nov. 17.
TURNING OVER THE TURNOVERS -- USC had 17 turnovers in the win at Boston College, its most turnovers in a game since also committing 17 vs. Tennessee Tech on Nov. 17. USC also had 15 turnovers in the win vs. Vermont on Dec. 30, but improved to 3-3 this season when committing 14 or more turnovers. Still, USC has averaged 12.4 turnovers the past nine games (112 total), after averaging 18.7 in the first three games of the season (56 total). USC has also forced 14.7 turnovers by its opponent in the last nine games (132 total), after generating only 10.7 in the first three games.