No. 25 USC To Play At Utah On Jan. 12|
Jan. 11, 2017
The No. 25 USC Trojans (15-2, 2-2) will play the Utah Runnin’ Utes (11-4, 2-1) in Salt Lake City, Utah on Jan. 12 at 6:00 p.m. (PT). USC’s 15-2 start is its best since the 1971 team began 16-1 en route to a 24-2 record.
BREAKING DOWN UTAH -- Utah (11-4, 2-1) has six players averaging in double figures, including forward David Collette (15.4 ppg) and guard Sedrick Barefield (11.9 ppg) who became eligible following the first semester. Utah is coming off an 88-82 win at ASU on Jan. 7, following a 66-56 loss at Arizona on Jan. 5. Utah leads the all-time series with USC 21-17 and beat the Trojans 80-69 at the Galen Center in the only regular season meeting last year, then again 80-72 in the second round of the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas, Nev. Utah has won seven consecutive games against the Trojans. This is the only scheduled meeting with Utah this season.
RABB SWATS AWAY USC’S HOME WINNING STREAK -- Jordan McLaughlin’s driving layup attempt at the buzzer was blocked by California’s Ivan Rabb and USC fell 74-73 on Jan. 8 for its first home loss of the season. McLaughlin had scored on a layup to the right side with 17 seconds left to give USC a 73-72 lead, but Rabb was fouled with 5.2 seconds remaining and made both free throws to give Cal the 74-73 lead. McLaughlin sped coast-to-coast and got the shot off, but was denied. The game featured 13 lead changes and 12 ties. The Bears led by as many as seven points in the first half, but the game was tied at the break following a three-point heave from halfcourt by McLaughlin that went in to tie it at 36. Cal built the lead up to eight points at 51-43 by making 6 of 7 shots early in the second half, but USC went on a 10-0 run capped by a three-pointer from Shaqquan Aaron to take the lead at 53-51 with 12 minutes remaining. From there it went back and fourth with neither team getting more than a 3-point advantage. Cal outrebounded USC 35-28 and outscored the Trojans 36-24 on points in the paint and 18-6 on second-chance points. USC made 50.9 percent of its shots, including 58.3 from 3-point range, but Cal had an opponent high shooting percentage to date this season of 47.5 percent. McLaughlin and Chimezie Metu had 20 points each for USC, while Rabb led Cal with 17 points.
COLORADO ON DECK -- USC’s next game will at Colorado (10-6, 0-3) on Jan. 15 at 5:30 p.m. (PT). The Buffaloes lost at Utah (76-60), Arizona State (78-77) and Arizona (82-73) to begin conference play and will host UCLA on Jan. 12 in its Pac-12 home opener before facing the Trojans. Derrick White (15.8), Xavier Johnson (14.7) and George King (10.4) are averaging double-figures in scoring. USC trails in the all-time series, 9-4, but won 79-72 at the Galen Center against the Buffaloes in the only meeting between the two schools last season. It snapped USC’s seven-game losing streak to Colorado and was its first win against the Buffaloes since they joined the Pac-12 (1-7). USC and Colorado are only scheduled for one game this season.
STILL IN RARIFIED AIR -- USC is one of 20 Division I schools (out of 351) which has two losses or less through games of Jan. 10. The only remaining undefeated team this season is Gonzaga (15-0).
SWIPERBOYZ -- USC once had Renaldo Woolridge (2013) aka “Swiperboy” on its team, but now features a pair of “Swiperboyz” in freshmen De’Anthony Melton and Jonah Mathews. Melton (31) and Mathews (20) have combined for 51 steals or an average of 3.0 per game. The pair are second and tied for 10th respectively among Pac-12 players in total steals. The original Swiperboy was not only a basketball player, but a talented singer/songwriter and just released a new cut Cali Girl on soundcloud on Dec. 17, 2016. It will also be released on iTunes, Apple Music and Spotify on Jan. 12 and will premier on Los Angeles’ Power 106 soon.
TORCHING THE TWINE -- After beginning the season making 38.0 percent of its shots and 24.7 from three-point range in the first three games, the Trojans have heated up. In the last 14 games, USC is shooing 47.1 percent from the floor (393-for-834), including 39.1 percent from three-point range (115-for-294).
PRECISION FROM THE POINT -- USC junior point guard Jordan McLaughlin has efficiently led the USC offense while averaging 14.5 points 3.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists. He is also making 50.0 percent of his shots (83-for-166), including 7-for-7 vs. Pepperdine on Dec. 11. He ranks third among Pac-12 players with 86 assists and second with a 2.4 assist to turnover ratio through games on Jan. 10. In the last 10 games, he has averaged 17.5 points (175 total), 3.9 rebounds (39 total) and 5.1 assists (51 total), while shooting 50.4 percent from the floor (57-for-113). McLaughlin has 346 career assists which ranks seventh on USC’s all-time assists list. Gus Williams is sixth on the list with 362 career assists as a Trojan. He went 3-for-8 from the free throw line in the 74-73 loss to California on Jan. 8 after entering the game having made 35 of previous 37 free throw attempts (94.6 percent).
SULTANS OF SWAT -- USC set a school record for blocks in a game with 14 vs. Pepperdine on Dec. 11 and has recorded 62 blocks in the last nine games (6.9 per game). For the season, USC is averaging 6.2 blocks per game which ranks 8th in the country and is on a pace which would break last season’s school record total of 188. Four different Trojans have at least 15 blocks : Metu (31), Stewart (22), Melton (20) and Rakocevic (15).
SECOND HALF SURGE -- USC scored 53 points in the second half against UCSB on Nov. 27, 52 in the second half against BYU on Dec. 3 and has averaged 41.6 points (708 total) after halftime this season. USC’s opponents have averaged 37.5 points (638 total) in the second half against the Trojans. USC won or tied in second-half scoring in 12 of its 17 games this season.
BALANCE WITH THE BALL -- Eight different Trojans have scored at least 13 points in a game this season and six are averaging at least 9.5 points per game.
STEW CAN DO -- Junior guard Elijah Stewart made a career-high seven three-point baskets vs. Pepperdine on Dec. 11 to tie for fourth on USC’s single-game three-point baskets made list. He had made at least one shot from beyond the arc in 20 consecutive games dating back to last season, before going 0-for-5 at Oregon State on Dec. 28. He now has at least one three-point basket in 23 of his last 24 games. His career total of 137 three-pointers made ranks 11th on USC’s all-time list, eight behind Stais Boseman who is 10th with 145. Stewart has averaged 13.9 points per game and leads USC with 40 three-point baskets, while ranking second in blocks (22), third in rebounds (90) and fourth in free throws made (36). He has also scored in double figures in 12 of 17 games this season, with a high of 30 points. Stewart’s 2.4 made three-pointers per game is fifth among all Pac-12 players. Stewart also has 22 blocks this season and 85 in his career which ties him with Dewayne Dedmon for 10th on USC’s all-time blocked shots list.
METU CONTINUES HIS RISE -- Sophomore Chimezie Metu scored 14 points and had 10 rebounds vs. Stanford on Jan. 5 for his fourth double-double of the season and fifth of his career. He scored a season-high 20 points vs. California on Jan. 8 and in the last 12 games he has averaged 14.4 points (173 total) and 8.3 rebounds (99 total). For the season he is averaging 13.4 points and 8.1 rebounds and leads the team with 31 blocks and 29 dunks, while ranking fourth on the team with 16 steals. He has been a consistent force for the Trojans with double-figures in points and six or more rebounds in 14 of the 17 games this season.
DE’ANTHONY DOING IT ALL -- Freshman guard De’Anthony Melton scored a career-high 16 points, had eight rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal in the win vs. Wyoming on Dec. 23. Melton scored 13 points, had 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks in the game vs. California on Jan. 8. He is second among Pac-12 players with 31 steals. He has at least two steals in 10 of 17 games. Melton is averaging 10.2 points and 5.5 rebounds, while ranking second on the team with 52 assists. He ranks ninth in the conference with a 1.8 assist to turnover ratio.