USC Faces No. 3 UCLA In Pac-12 Quarterfinals Tonight|
March 9, 2017
The No. 6 seed USC Trojans (24-8, 10-8) will face the No. 3 seed UCLA Bruins (28-3, 15-3) in the the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. on March 9 at 8:30 p.m. USC has won 24 games for the first time since the 2007 team won a school-record 25 games (25-12) and the sixth time in school history. The 23 regular season wins were USC's most since the 1992 team also won 23. USC's 45 wins the last two seasons are the second-most in a two-season stretch in school history behind the 46 combined wins in during the 2001 and 2002 and 2007 and 2008 seasons. Tonight is USC's eighth game against a team with 27 or more wins this season.
BREAKING DOWN No. 3 UCLA -- No. 3 UCLA had a first-round bye and will be playing its first game at the 2017 Pac-12 Tournament. 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.
USC AT THE PAC-12 TOURNAMENT -- USC is 15-16 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 won the 2009 conference tournament held at Staples Center, led by tournament MVP DeMar DeRozan.
USC DEFEATS WASHINGTON IN PAC-12 TOURNEY OPENER -- Chimezie Metu scored 24 points and grabbed 9 rebounds and USC came from 10 points back to win 78-73 in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament held at T-Mobile Arena on March 8. USC trailed 37-27 with 3 minutes remaining in gthe first half but closed on a 10-2 run to trail 39-37 at the break. USC turned up the defense in the second half to go up by 14 points and held on for the 5-point win. USC matched a season high with 15 steal, 9 in the second half. USC forced 17 turnovers which led to an 18-8 adavantage on points off turnovers. Jordan McLaughlin had 11 points, six assists without a turnover and matched a career high with 5 steals. USC made 82.8 percent of its free throws (24 of 29), but all 5 misses came in the final 3:15 of the game which allowed Washington to cut the lead to 76-73 with 22 seconds remaining. After a pair of misses by Shaqquan Aaron, Washington's David Crisp got off a long contested 3-point attempt which missed with 3 seconds left. Aaron grabbed the rebound and hit a pair of free throws to put the game away. Aaron finished with 10 points and Bennie Boatwright added 13 points and five rebounds. Washington made 53.8 percent of its shots, while USC hit 42.4 percent.
ON DECK -- The winner of the No. 6 USC-No. 3 UCLA game will face the winner of the No. 2 Arizona-No. 7 Colorado game on March 10 at 8:30 p.m. in one of the tournament semifinals.
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 (4), 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 64.8 percent of the minutes played this season (4162 of 6425 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 14.8 points and 4.4 rebounds in 15 games, 14 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 six games he has averaged 16.8 points (101 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 that game and all six on March 8 vs. Washington. 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 92.4 percent of his free throw attempts (61 of 66).
PRECISION FROM THE POINT -- USC junior point guard Jordan McLaughlin has efficiently led the USC offense while averaging 12.9 points 3.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists. He ranks second among Pac-12 players with 175 assists and is fourth with a 2.4 assist to turnover ratio through games on March 8. McLaughlin has 435 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 85.9 percent (67 of 78) of his free throws in the last 23-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 137 career steals, eighth on USC's all-time list in steals by a Trojan. Lodrick Stewart is seventh on the list with 148 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 178 blocks as a team and four different Trojans have at least 23 or more blocks: Metu (51), Stewart (39), 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 7.2 points per game.
TROJAN MEN OF STEAL -- USC has eight games of 10 or more steals this season and its 234 steals and its 7.3 steals per game lead the Pac-12. De'Anthony Melton's 63 steals are the second-most in the conference and sixth nationally among all freshmen.
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 also scored 24 points in USC's Pac-12 Tourney first-round game on March 8. 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 averaged15.3 points in Pac-12 play and for the season he is averaging 14.7 points and 7.7 rebounds. He also leads the team with 51 blocks and 76 dunks, while ranking fourth on the team with 27 steals. Metu has at least one dunk in 29 of USC's 32 games. He has been a consistent force for the Trojans with double-figures in points and six or more rebounds in 25 of the 32 games this season. He has averaged 17.2 points (155 total) and 8.0 rebounds (72 total) in his last nine games.
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 & assists, 3rd in blocks & in free throws made, 4th in minutes & 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 63 steals, which ranks 3rd on USC's all-time freshman steals list...Maurice Jones is 1st with 69 and Errick Craven 2nd with 68 steals as a freshman. Melton has at least two steals in 17 of 32 games. His 63 steals also rank fifth all-time in a single season by a Trojan. His 33 blocks rank 8th on USC's all-time freshman list. Melton is averaging 8.8 points and 5.0 rebounds, while ranking second on the team with 111 assists. His 111 assists rank tied for fifth on USC's all-time freshman assists list. Melton also ranks tied for 8th in the conference with a 1.9 assist to turnover ratio.
COMEBACK KIDS -- USC rallied back from an 11-point first-half deficit at WSU on Feb. 4, a 10-point halftime deficit (37-27) at Washington on Feb. 1, 10-point first half deficits vs. Washington on March 4 and March 8 and from a 20-10 first-half deficit vs. UCLA on Jan. 25 and has 13 comebacks this season from a deficit of nine points or more to win, including 11 of 10 points. USC's biggest comeback to win is 11 points, done three times.
MESHING QUICKLY -- USC entered the 2016-17 season with only four scholarship players which had played for the Trojans before this season and then one of those, Bennie Boatwright, missed 17 of the first 22 games. Still, USC won its first 14 games and went 10-8 in conference play for the first time since 2011.
THE FOUL LINE CAN BE YOUR FRIEND -- USC is making 74.1 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.