USC Begins Its NCAA Dance In Dayton Facing Providence

    March 12, 2017

    NCAA Tournament Central

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    The No. 11 seeds in the East Region USC Trojans (24-9, 10-8) and Providence Friars (20-12, 10-8) will meet in an NCAA First Four Game at UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio on March 15 at 9:10 p.m. (ET). The winner of the USC-Providence game will face the No. 6 seed SMU Mustangs in Tulsa, Okla. on March 17. Tonight's game will air on truTV with Spero Dedes and Steve Smith calling the action and Ros Gold-Onwude providing sideline commentary. 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.

    USC IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT -- USC is 12-18 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, which reflects one loss in 2008 vacated due to NCAA penalty. USC lost 70-69 to Providence in the first round last season, when it allowed a layup with 1.5 seconds left on an inbounds pass. Prior to that game, USC's last appearance in the NCAA Tournament came in 2011 when it lost 59-46 to VCU in a First Four game played in Dayton, Ohio, USC's only other appearance at the First Four. VCU went on to reach the Final Four. USC was in four of five NCAA Tournaments from 2007-11 and this is the first back-to-back appearances since three-straight from 2007-09. USC reached the Final Four in 1940 and 1954, the regional final in 2001 and the regional semifinal in 2007.

    BREAKING DOWN PROVIDENCE -- Providence (20-12, 10-8) had won six consecutive games before falling 70-58 to No. 23 Creighton in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals on March 9. Providence has four players averaging in double figures, led by junior forward Rodney Bullock at 15.7 points per game. Bullock hit a game-winning layup and finished with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds in USC's 70-69 first-round loss to Providence in the 2016 NCAA Tournament, held in Raleigh, N.C. The Friars' head coach is Ed Cooley (123-79 in six seasons). USC is 0-2 all-time against Providence, losing in last year's NCAA Tournament and falling 70-66 at home on Jan. 26, 1972.

    USC FALLS IN PAC-12 QUARTERFINALS -- USC missed its first eight shots and trailed wire-to-wire despite a valiant comeback attempt in a 76-74 loss to UCLA in the Pac-12 Quarterfinals at T-Mobile Arena on March 9. USC's cold spell was not short-lived as it started 1-for-14 and 4-for-22 from the floor before the offense started to click. USC trailed 32-18 with five minutes left in the first half, but closed to 38-35 at the break. UCLA opened with a 12-2 run to start the second half to open the lead back up to 13 before the Trojans rallied again. USC cut it to a two-point deficit twice in the final 4:31, but could get no closer. Bennie Boatwright's three-point basket with 4.1 left made it 76-74, but UCLA got the ball inbounds and avoided being fouled. Jordan McLaughlin led USC with 18 points and had 6 assists. The game was played before 18,153, the largest quarterfinal session in Pac-12 Tournament history.

    SMU ON DECK -- The winner of USC-Providence will play SMU (29-4, 17-1) on March 17 in Tulsa, Okla. SMU won the American Athletic regular season and conference tournament titles. SMU guards Shake Milton (13.2), Sterling Brown (13.2) and forward Ben Moore (11.6) all averaged double figures in points. USC defeated SMU 78-73 at the Galen Center on Nov. 25 and leads the all-time series 4-1.

    UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN -- SMU is one of six teams USC faced this season which made the NCAA Tournament and the Trojans are 4-6 in those games: Arizona (0-2), New Orleans (1-0), Oregon (0-2), SMU (1-0), Troy (1-0) and UCLA (1-2).

    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.