USC Closes Regular Season At Rival UCLA Wednesday|
March 2, 2015
The USC Trojans (11-18, 3-14) will play at the UCLA Bruins (18-12, 10-7) at Pauley Pavilion at 6:00 p.m. The game will air on ESPN2 and on AM 690.
BREAKING DOWN UCLA -- UCLA is coming off a 72-67 home win over Washington State on March 1 to improve to 8-0 in conference and 15-1 overall in home games this season. UCLA defeated USC 83-66 on Jan. 14 at the Galen Center and leads the all-time series with USC, 136-104 (reflects a USC win in 2008 vacated due to NCAA penalty). USC's last visit to UCLA on Jan. 5, 2014 resulted in a 107-73 loss, its most points allowed in a game since the 2000 season. Still, USC is 3-4 in its last seven visits to Pauley Pavilion. All five of UCLA's starters are averaging over 10 points per game with its next highest-scoring player averaging 3.8 points per game.
USC ENDS HOME SLATE IN STYLE WITH WIN OVER UW -- With no seniors on the roster it was Fan Appreciation Night for the last home game of the season and USC gave the fans something to remember with a 70-55 win vs. Washington on Feb. 28. USC led 27-22 at halftime, but Nikola Jovanovic scored 15 of his team-high 16 points in the second half as the Trojans built the lead to as many as 18 points. USC shot 58.6 percent from the floor in the second half as the team flashed the "Dunk City" style, slamming home seven dunks during the game, three by Malik Martin. USC held Washington to a 29.7 shooting percentage, the lowest by a Trojan opponent since holding UC Riverside to 19.0 percent on Dec. 12, 2012. Julian Jacobs flirted with a triple-double, finishing with eight points, a career-high 10 rebounds and a career-high tying nine assists. Elijah Stewart added 11 points and a career-best nine rebounds. USC outrebounded Washington 46-43 and outscored the Huskies in the paint, 44-14. USC had lost the rebound battle in all five games the previous three seasons against Washington, getting outrebounded by 79 overall. USC also outscored UW 19-2 on fastbreak points.
PAC-12 TOURNAMENT ON DECK -- USC will be either the No. 11 or No. 12 seed at the Pac-12 Tournament and play on March 11. If USC loses tonight or Washington wins either of its two remaining games, USC would be the No. 12 seed and play the No. 5 seed at 2:30 p.m. If USC wins and UW loses both games, USC would be the No. 11 seed and play the No. 6 seed at 8:30 p.m. The tournament will be played at the MGM Grand Garden Arena from March 11-14.
JUST HOW YOUNG ARE THEY...? -- According to Statsheet.com, USC ranks as the fourth-youngest team in the country and first among the Power 5 conferences in terms of minutes played by class. Among the top 11 teams listed in terms of youngest rosters, only three have a winning record and one of those is No. 1 Kentucky. USC is one of three of those 11 youngest teams to have a strength of schedule ranked in the top 80. Conversely, 16 of the 23 "oldest" rosters have a record of .500 or better. USC is one of only 15 teams in the country without a senior and the Trojans have had only one scholarship junior (Strahinja Gavrilovic) play this season.
TEAM TROJAN -- USC has seven players averaging over 5.0 points per game and one at 4.9 points per game. The last time USC had eight players average over 5.0 points for a season was the 2004-05 season. USC has had 10 different players lead the team or tie for game-high scoring this season and has had six tie for or lead USC in rebounding and assists in a game.
STRONG FRESHMAN FOUNDATION -- USC has three players ranking in the top 11 among all Pac-12 freshmen in scoring, rebounding and steals. Jordan McLaughlin leads all Pac-12 freshmen with 1.50 steals and 4.55 assists per game. McLaughlin's assist total (100) ranks 9th on USC's all-time freshman list and his 28 3-point baskets are tied for 10th. Elijah Stewart ranks 6th all-time in blocks by a Trojan freshman with 35, third among conference freshmen.
JACOBS CLIMING THE LADDER -- Guard Julian Jacobs has averaged 12.5 points (75 total), 7.0 rebounds (42 total) and 7.2 assists (43 total) in the last six games. His 69 assists in Pac-12 play ranks fifth among all conference players. He also ranks 14th in field goal percentage and steals in Pac-12 play.
GETTING DEFENSIVE -- USC has held its last three opponents to a combined 34.3 shooting percentage (60-for-175), including holding Washington to 29.7 percent (19-for-64) on Feb. 28 which was the lowest percentage by a Trojan opponent since holding UC Riverside to 19.0 percent on Dec. 12, 2012. The Trojans have held their last 12 opponents to a combined 40.8 percent (288-for-706). Entering conference play, USC had held its opponents to 38.9 percent shooting from the floor, including 29.3 percent from three-point range. Still, USC has held 14 of 29 opponents this season to 40 percent shooting or less, for a combined 41.5 shooting percentage. Last season, USC's opponents had a combined field goal percentage of 43.0 percent. USC has held 5 of its last 7 opponents to 22 field goals or less after accomplishing the feat 5 times in the first 22 games.
FASTBREAK FUN -- In USC's 11 wins this season it has outscored the opposition 128-39 on fastbreak points. USC had more fastbreak points than its opponent in 9 of the 11 games with two games in which they had two less points than the opponent. USC has out-dunked its opponents 69-52 this season. USC's dunk leaders in 2014-15 are: Julian Jacobs - 18, Malik Martin - 14, Nikola Jovanovic -13, Darion Clark -11.
DEFENDING THE THREE -- USC is third among all Pac-12 teams in 3-point field goal defense, holding the opposition to a 31.9 shooting percentage from beyond the arc.
KATIN'S SCORING SURGE -- USC guard Katin Reinhardt has averaged 14.8 points per game (163 total) in the last 11 games. Reinhardt leads the team with a 13.0 scoring average in conference games which ranks 18th among Pac-12 players.
NEW KID ON THE BLOCK -- USC freshman guard Elijah Stewart is sneaking up the blocked shots list. He was credited with three blocks at Stanford on Feb. 8, but harassed many more shots and then registered three more vs. Oregon State on Feb. 14. Stewart has 21 blocks in the last 11 games and is 5th in Pac-12 play with 25 blocks in 17 games. Stewart and Oregon State's Gary Payton II are the only two guards during Pac-12 play to rank in the top 15 for blocked shots. Stewart also has at least one steal in 15 of last 19 games (23 steals).
THE MAGIC MARK OF 61 -- USC has held the opposition to 56, 57, 55 and 55 in its last four wins and is 8-1 when allowing the opposition 61 points or less this season.
SECOND HALF ADJUSTMENTS -- USC has outscored the opposition by nearly a point in the second half of games and outshoots them 44.4 percent to 38.8 percent. In the first half of games, USC is outscored by 3.5 points per game and is outshot, 39.1 percent to 44.0 percent. USC also forces 30 more turnovers than assists allowed after the break. USC has trailed at the half 20 times: