USC To Face Washington In Pac-12 Tournament Opener Wednesday|
March 6, 2017
The No. 6 seed USC Trojans (23-8, 10-8) will face the No. 11 seed Washington Huskies (9-21, 2-16) in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. on March 8 at 8:30 p.m. USC has won 23 games for the first time since the 2007 team won a school record 25 games (25-12). It is the seventh time in USC history that a team has won 23 or more games and the first time in the regular season since the 1992 team was 23-5 (and finished 24-6).
BREAKING DOWN WASHINGTON -- USC defeated Washington 74-58 at the Galen Center on March 4 to close out the regular season. Washington has lost 12 consecutive games since winning in overtime vs. Coloardo on Jan. 18. The Huskies are led by freshman and Pac-12 leading scorer Markelle Fultz who is averaging 23.2 points, nearly five points more than the conference’s second-leading scorer. USC also won 82-74 at Washington on Feb. 1 and the all-time series is tied 71-71, which reflects two USC wins vacated due to NCAA penalty.
USC AT THE PAC-12 TOURNAMENT – USC is 14-16 all-time at the conference tournament (reflects 1 USC win vacated due to NCAA penalty). At the 2016 Pac-12 Tournament, USC defeated UCLA 95-71 in the first round before falling 80-72 to Utah in the quarterfinals. USC has never faced Washington or Oregon State in the conference tournament. USC won the 2009 conference tournament held at Staples Center, led by tournament MVP DeMar DeRozan.
USC DEFEATS WASHINGTON IN REGULAR SEASON FINALE -- Jordan McLaughlin had 22 points and nine assists and USC closed out the regular season with a 74-58 win over Washington at the Galen Center on March 4. USC trailed 14-4 early, but took a six-point lead by halftime and led the entire second half. The Trojans’ lead did not reach double figures until under four minutes remained. USC made a season-high 58.7 percent of its shots, while holding Washington to 42.0 percent. USC had 11 steals and nine blocks and outscored the Huskies 44-22 on points in the paint. Chimezie Metu added 17 points, 4 rebound and 3 blocks.
No. 3 UCLA ON DECK -- The winner of the USC-Washington game will face No. 3 seed No. 3 UCLA (28-3, 15-3) ni the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals. USC split the season series with UCLA, winning 84-76 at home and losing 102-70 at UCLA. The teams have met in the conference tournament each of the last two seasons, with UCLA winning in 2015 and USC winning in 2016. USC is 2-3 all-time against UCLA in the Pac-12 Tournament and 108-139 all-time overall against the Bruins, which reflect two USC wins vacated due to NCAA penalty. UCLA leads the country by averaging 91.3 points per game and has six players averaging at least 10 points.
TOURNAMENT TALK - USC is 23-8 and teams which it has beaten this season have 19 wins over projected NCAA Tournament teams as of March 5. Included in the 21 wins are victories over No. 4 Gonzaga, No. 5 Oregon, No. 7 Arizona, No. 8 Kentucky, No. 15 Cincinnati, Michigan and Xavier. In addition to that, USC has victories itself over No. 3 UCLA and No. 12 SMU.
WINNING OVER THE WINNERS -- USC has already played seven games against teams ranking in the top 7 in the country (11 total teams) in terms of winning percentage (Oregon-2, UCLA-2, Arizona-2, SMU--1). USC is one of five teams in the country with two or more wins over this group: Butler (4), Gonzaga (3), USC (2), Oregon (2), UCLA (2).
McLAUGHLIN WINS 2ND PAC-12 PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONOR -- Jordan McLaughlin was named the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for the week of Feb. 27-March 5. He averaged 19.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 9.5 assists and 3.0 steals. He had 16 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds in the win over WSU on March 1, narrowly missing on posting the second triple-double in USC history. It was his second Pac-12 Player of the Week honor for McLaughlin this season and in his career, as he was also voted the winner the week of Dec. 19-25.
2017 PAC-12 YEARLY HONORS -- Chimezie Metu was named the Pac-12’s Most Improved Player and 2nd-Team All-Conference. Jordan McLaughlin was named honorable mention All-Pac-12 and De’Anthony Melton was named honorable mention on the Pac-12 All-Defensive team.
THE YOUNG WILL LEAD -- USC’s roster has only one scholarship senior and two scholarship juniors and 64.6 percent of the minutes played this season (4020 of 6225 minutes) has been by freshmen or sophomores.
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 4.4 rebounds in 14 games, 13 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, then added 22 at ASU on Feb. 26. In his last five games he has averaged 17.6 points (88 total). He missed his first free throw attempt on March 4 vs. Washington which ended his consecutive made free throws streak at 34, then made his next five attempts. The USC record for consecutive makes from the charity stripe is 41 by David Bluthenthal over 9 games in 2000-01. For the season, Boatwright has made 91.7 percent of his free throw attempts (55 of 60).
PRECISION FROM THE POINT -- USC junior point guard Jordan McLaughlin has efficiently led the USC offense while averaging 13.0 points 3.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists. He ranks second among Pac-12 players with 169 assists and is fifth with a 2.3 assist to turnover ratio through games on March 4. McLaughlin has 429 career assists which ranks second on USC’s all-time assists list. He has a tall order to graduate as USC’s all-time assist leader, though, as Brandon Granville holds the school record with 779 career assist. 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 85.5 percent (65 of 76) of his free throws in the last 22-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 132 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 5.6 blocks per game which ranks 7th in the country. USC has 175 blocks as a team and four different Trojans have at least 23 or more blocks: Metu (49), Stewart (38), Melton (33) and Rakocevic (23). USC set the school record with 182 blocks last season.
BALANCE WITH THE BALL -- Eight different Trojans have scored at least 13 points in a game this season and seven are averaging at least 7.4 points per game.
TROJAN MEN OF STEAL -- USC has seven games of 10 or more steals this season and its 219 steals and its 7.1 steals per game lead the Pac-12. De’Anthony Melton’s 60 steals are the third-most in the conference and tied for sixth nationally among all freshmen.