USC's Final Road Trip Begins At No. 4 Arizona On Thursday|
Feb. 21, 2017
The USC Trojans (21-6, 8-6) will play atl No. 4 Arizona (25-3, 14-1) in Tucson, Ariz. on Feb. 23 at 7:00 p.m. PT. USC began the season 14-0 which ranks tied for the fourth-longest winning streak in school history and was the best USC start since the 1971 season. USC’s 21-6 start is its best since the 1992 team began 22-5. This is the 15th USC team to win 21 or more games in school history. Tonight’s game will be USC’s seventh against teams which have won 24 or more games this season and third consecutive against teams ranked in the top 6 in the country. USC is the only school to face three straight top 6 teams this season.
BREAKING DOWN No. 4 ARIZONA -- The Pac-12-leading Wildcats are coming off a 76-68 win over Washington on Feb. 18. Arizona has won 19 of its last 20 games. Arizona defeated USC 73-66 at the Galen Center on Jan. 19 and leads the all-time series 64-41 which reflects one win by both teams vacated due to NCAA penalty. USC is 9-11 in its last 20 games against the Wildcats., but has lost its last seven at McKale Center. Arizona is 14-0 at McKale Center this season and has won 20 consecutive home games. Arizona has five players scoring in double figures per game, led by freshman forward Lauri Markkanen at 15.7 points per game.
USC DEFEATED BY No. 6 UCLA -- UCLA finished on a 31-9 run over the final 7:30 of the game to defeat USC 102-70 at Pauley Pavilion on Feb. 18. USC trailed 71-61 at that point, but UCLA made 11 of its next 15 shots. USC was 2-for-10 in that same stretch and finished the game shooting 33.8 percent from the floor. The Bruins made 53.8 percent of their shots, including 50 percent from 3-point range. USC made only 31.8 percent from 3-point range. The first half went back and forth with USC enjoying its biggest lead at 23-18 with 8:00 remaining, but UCLA closed out that half by outscoring USC 28-11 to take a 46-34 lead at the break. The Bruins outrebounded USC 50-33 and outscored USC 44-28 on points in the paint in the game, 27-13 and 26-14 respectively in the second half. Bennie Boatwright led USC with 20 points and 10 rebounds for his second career double-double. Bryce Alford led five Bruins in double-figures with 26 points. Thomas Welsh was 6-for-6 in the second half and had a double-double of 16 points and 16 rebounds for the Bruins. The loss snapped USC’s four-game winning streak against UCLA. USC’s starters were outscored 89-55 and outshot 37.0-61.0 percent in the game. UCLA (24) had more baskets in the 2nd half than USC had in the game (22).
ARIZONA STATE ON DECK -- USC’s next game will be at Arizona State (13-15, 6-9) on Feb. 26 at 3:30 p.m. PT. ASU is coming off an 86-71 loss at Washington State on Feb. 18 and will host No. 5 UCLA on Feb. 23 before facing USC. USC defeated ASU 82-79 at the Galen Center on Jan. 22 and leads the all-time series 53-39, which reflects two wins vacated by USC due to NCAA penalty. USC has lost its last four games at Wells Fargo Arena. The Sun Devils are led in scoring by Torian Graham (18.5 ppg) and Tra Holder (17.2 ppg).
STILL IN RARIFIED AIR -- USC is one of 35 Division I schools (out of 351) which has six losses or less through games of Feb. 20. USC’s is also tied for 35th in the country in wins with 21.
GRUELING GAUNTLET -- When USC faces No. 4 Arizona on Feb. 23, it will become the only team in the country to have faced top 6 teams in three consecutive games this season (then No. 5 Oregon on Feb. 11, then No. 6 UCLA on Feb. 18). USC is also the only school to face those teams twice this season. Only three other teams (Georgia Tech, Texas & Texas Tech) have even faced top 10 teams in three consecutive games and only 13 others have played two top 10 teams in consecutive games. USC has already played six games against teams ranking in the top 9 in the country in terms of winning percentage (Oregon-2, UCLA-2, Arizona-1, SMU--1). MELTON’S FAB FRESHMAN CAMPAIGN – The Pac-12 has some of the top freshmen in the country this season and De’Anthony Melton is one of the best in the conference. He is one of two freshmen (Markelle Fultz of Washington) to rank among the top five Pac-12 freshmen this season in rebounding (5th), steals (1st), blocks (3rd) and assists (5th). He is 12th in scoring at 9.3 points per game and only Melton, Lonzo Ball of UCLA and Devon Daniels of Utah rank among the Pac-12 freshmen top 12 in scoring and top 10 in rebounding, field goal percentage (min. 75 attempts), free throw percentage (min. 40 attempts), steals, blocks and assists.
STRINGING SUCCESS TOGETHER - USC is 21-6 this season and was 21-13 last season, the first back-to-back seasons of 21 or more wins since winning 21 or more games in the 2007 (25), 2008 (21) and 2009 (22) seasons.
BATTLE TESTED -- USC went 13-0 in nonconference play and nine of the 13 teams it played are .500 or better this season and nine teams have at least 14 wins. When you add in the teams USC has faced in the Pac-12 so far, 18 of USC’s 27 games have been against opponents that are currently .500 or better and 17 of the games were against opponents who have at least 14 wins. The combined record of the five teams (6 games) which USC has lost to is 108-28.
SULTANS OF SWAT -- USC set a school record for blocks in a game with 14 vs. Pepperdine on Dec. 11, but did not record a block at Colorado on Jan. 15, its first game without a block since Jan. 19, 2012 at Oregon (snapping a streak of 161 consecutive games with at least one block). USC bounced back with eight blocks against Arizona on Jan. 19 and seven vs. ASU on Jan. 22. For the season, USC is averaging 5.7 blocks per game which ranks T-10th in the country. Four different Trojans have at least 21 blocks: Metu (41), Stewart (33), Melton (32) and Rakocevic (21).
BALANCE WITH THE BALL -- Eight different Trojans have scored at least 13 points in a game this season and seven are averaging at least 7.3 points per game.
TROJAN MEN OF STEAL -- USC has six games of 10 or more steals this season and its 191 steals lead the Pac-12. De’Anthony Melton’s 53 steals are the second-most in the conference and sixth nationally among all freshmen.
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 then matched that with seven makes from long range against ASU on Jan. 22 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 31 of his last 34 games. His career total of 160 three-pointers made is eighth on USC’s all-time list, three behind Elias Ayuso who is seventh with 163. Stewart is third among the Trojans in scoring at a 13.4 points per game and leads USC with 63 three-point baskets, while ranking tied for second in blocks (33) and third in rebounds (124). He has also scored in double figures in 19 of 27 games this season, with a high of 30 points. Stewart’s 2.3 made three-pointers per game are sixth among all Pac-12 players. Stewart also has 33 blocks this season and 96 in his career which is ninth on USC’s all-time blocked shots list, one ahead of Chimezie Metu and Nikola Vucevic. Avondre Jones is eighth on the list with 101 career blocks as a Trojan.
METU BECOMING A FORCE -- Sophomore Chimezie Metu scored a career-high 29 points by making 12 of 14 shots in the win at Washington State on Feb. 4. His previous career high had been 24 points on 11 of 14 shooting at Colorado on Jan. 15, including making the go-ahead basket with 29 seconds remaining. He 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 is averaging 15.3 points in Pac-12 play and for the season he is averaging a team-leading 14.2 points and 7.3 rebounds. He also leads the team with 41 blocks and 59 dunks, while ranking fourth on the team with 24 steals. Metu has at least one dunk in 24 of USC’s 27 games. He has been a consistent force for the Trojans with double-figures in points and six or more rebounds in 21 of the 27 games this season.