USC Faces Arizona State In Final Road Game |
Feb. 25, 2017
The USC Trojans (21-7, 8-7) will play at the Arizona State Sun Devils (13-16, 6-10) in Tempe, Ariz. on Feb. 26 at 3:30 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 21-7 start is its best since the 1992 season. This is the 15th USC team to win 21 or more games in school history. USC has lost three consecutive games for the first time this season, falling to then No. 5 Oregon, then No. 6 UCLA and No. 4 Arizona. USC is the only team in the country to have played three top 6 teams in consecutive games this season. Today is USC’s earliest start time since hosting SMU on Nov. 25 at 4 p.m.
BREAKING DOWN ARIZONA STATE -- ASU is coming off an 87-75 loss at home against UCLA on Feb. 23 in which its starters played all but one minute. ASU uses primarily a six-man rotation. 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 (18.8 ppg), Tra Holder (16.8 ppg) and Shannon Evans II (15.6 ppg). Arizona State leads all Pac-12 teams with 287 three-point baskets made.
USC FALLS AT No. 4 ARIZONA -- Arizona took the lead late in the first half and went on to defeat USC 90-77 at the McKale Center on Feb. 23 for its 70th home win in its last 71 tries. USC had its biggest lead at 26-17 with 6:11 remaining in the first half and 35-28 with four minutes before the break, but Arizona got hot. The Wildcats made 6 of their final 7 shots, including 3 three-pointers to take a 44-39 lead at halftime. USC cut the deficit to 51-49 five minutes into the second half, but Arizona went on a 20-6 run to open its biggest lead of 16 points. USC started to chip away and got as close as seven points at 80-73 with 1:49 remaining, but Arizona closed on a 10-4 run. Bennie Boatwright led USC with 23 points, which tied his career high, and Chimezie Metu had his 5th double-double of the season with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Allonzo Trier led Arizona with a game-high 25 points. USC actually outshot Arizona 52.9 percent to 50.8 percent, but the Wildcats made 11 of 20 three-point shots (55.0 percent). USC committed 14 turnovers which led to a 23-9 advantage for Arizona on points off turnovers. Arizona’s bench outscored USC’s subs 30-11.
WASHINGTON STATE ON DECK -- USC’s next game will be against Washington State (12-15, 5-10) at the Galen Center on March 1 at 7 p.m. Senior forward Josh Hawkinson leads the Cougars in scoring and rebounding, averaging a double-double of 15.3 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. USC defeated Washington State 86-77 in Pullman, Wash. on Feb. 4. USC has won its last three games against Washington State and leads the all-time series 72-48
GRUELING GAUNTLET -- By facing No. 4 Arizona on Thursday, USC became 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 seven games against teams ranking in the top 10 in the country in terms of winning percentage (Oregon-2, UCLA-2, Arizona-2, 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 is also among the Pac-12 freshmen top 10 in field goal percentage (min. 100 attempts) and free throw percentage (minimun of 50 attempts).
THIS AND THAT -- USC is 9-1 when the opposition scores first and 12-6 when it scores first. USC is 13-1 when winning the battle of the boards and 8-6 when outrebounded or tied in rebounds. USC is 17-2 when outshooting its opponent and 10-0 when holding them to under 70 points.
MR. BUCKETS BACK IN ACTION -- Sophomore forward Bennie “Bennie Buckets” Boatwright tied his career high with 23 points on 7 of 10 shooting in his return to action at Washington on Feb. 1 and added 13 at Washington State on Feb. 4. He then scored 16 points vs. Oregon State on Feb. 9 in his first game at the Galen Center since Nov. 27. He had missed USC’s previous 15 games since suffering a Grade 2 sprain of his medial collateral ligament in his left knee three minutes into the game at San Diego on Nov. 30. The Trojan co-captain is averaging 14.9 points and 4.8 rebounds in 11 games, 10 starts. He scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds at UCLA on Feb. 18 for his second career double-double. He matched his career high with 23 points at Arizona and made all 8 free throw attempts and has made 33 consecutive free throws. The USC record for consecutive makes from the charity stripe is 41 by David Bluthenthal over 9 games in 2000-01. Bluthenthal also holds the record of 42 straight FT makes in Pac-12 play by a Trojan over 14 games in 2000-01.
PRECISION FROM THE POINT -- USC junior point guard Jordan McLaughlin has efficiently led the USC offense while averaging 12.8 points 3.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists. He ranks third among Pac-12 players with 140 assists and is fifth with a 2.1 assist to turnover ratio through games on Feb. 23. McLaughlin has 400 career assists which ranks third on USC’s all-time assists list, nine behind Larry Friend who is second on the list with 409. McLaughlin 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). Still, he has made 84.7 percent (61 of 72) of his free throws in the last 19-plus games. McLaughlin scored his 1,000th career point with his last basket vs. Arizona on Jan. 19 to become the 37th Trojan to reach the 1,000-point plateau. He also has 126 career steals, ninth on USC’s all-time list in steals by a Trojan. Sam Clancy is eighth on the list with 134 career steals.
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 5.5 blocks per game which ranks 14th in the country. Four different Trojans have at least 21 blocks: Metu (42), 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 7.1 points per game.
TROJAN MEN OF STEAL -- USC has six games of 10 or more steals this season and its 194 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 35 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 13.1 points per game and leads USC with 63 three-point baskets, while ranking second in blocks (33) and third in rebounds (125). He has also scored in double figures in 19 of 28 games this season, with a high of 30 points. Stewart’s 2.3 made three-pointers per game are seventh 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, tied with Chimezie Metu. 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 notched his fifth double-double of the season and sixth of his career with 15 points and 12 rebounds at Arizona on Feb. 23. He is averaging 15.3 points in Pac-12 play and for the season he is averaging 14.3 points and 7.5 rebounds. He also leads the team with 42 blocks and 62 dunks, while ranking fourth on the team with 24 steals. Metu has at least one dunk in 25 of USC’s 28 games. He has been a consistent force for the Trojans with double-figures in points and six or more rebounds in 22 of the 28 games this season.
MAGIC MELTON -- Freshman guard De’Anthony Melton has been a consistent “stat sheet stuffer” for the Trojans leading the team in steals, ranking 2nd in rebounds and assists, 3rd in blocks and in free throws made, 4th in minutes and 5th in scoring. He scored a career-high 16 points, had eight rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal in the win vs. Wyoming on Dec. 23. He matched his career high with 16 points at Washington on Feb. 1 and added seven rebounds, six assists, two blocks and a career-high six steals. He is 2nd among Pac-12 players with 53 steals, which ranks 5th on USC’s all-time freshman steals list, one behind Brandon Granville who is 4th with 54 and three behind Gabe Pruitt who is 3rd with 56. Melton has at least two steals in 14 of 28 games. His 32 blocks rank 8th on USC’s all-time freshman list. Melton is averaging 9.3 points and 5.3 rebounds, while ranking second on the team with 96 assists. His 96 assists ties him for 10th on USC’s all-time freshman assists list...Jordan McLaughlin is ninth with 100 assists as a freshman. Melton also ranks 8th in the conference with a 1.9 assist to turnover ratio.
TURNOVERS TELL THE TALE -- USC has committed 11.4 turnovers per game which ranks tied for 32nd in the country. USC has committed 318 turnovers compared to its opponent’s 356 and enjoys a 449-330 advantage on points off of turnovers. USC has committed more turnovers than its opponent nine times this season. USC is 5-6 in games it has as many or more turnovers as its opponent and 16-1 in games it has less turnovers. USC had 14 turnovers which led to Arizona’s 23-9 advantage on points off turnovers on Feb. 23...USC entered that game averaging 5 more points per game than its opponent on turnovers. USC had a season-high 17 turnovers which led to 23 points in its 84-61 loss at Oregon on Dec. 30 and followed it up with a new high of 18 turnovers in the win vs. Stanford on Jan. 5. USC also had 16 turnovers vs. Oregon on Feb. 11.
THE FOUL LINE CAN BE YOUR FRIEND -- USC is making 73.6 percent of its free throws this season, despite being only 10-for-21 (47.6 percent) in the 74-73 loss vs. California on Jan. 8 and 14-for-26 (53.8 percent) in the loss at Utah on Jan. 12. USC as a team has not finished a season shooting over 70 percent from the charity stripe since hitting 71.5 percent of its free throws in the 2007 season. In the last 30 seasons, USC has shot over 70 percent from the free throw line only twice. Bennie Boatwright has made his last 33 free throw attempts.