USC Opens 5-Game Homestand Hosting Idaho On Monday

    Nikola Jovanovic was 10-for-10 from the free throw line at UCSB on Dec. 3, tying for the sixth-most FT makes without a miss in a game by a Trojan.
    Dec. 6, 2015

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    The USC Trojans (6-2) will host the Idaho Vandals (5-4) at the Galen Center on Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. The game will air on the Pac-12 Network with Roxy Bernstein and Don MacLean calling the action. USC’s 6-2 start is its best since also starting the 2007-08 season 6-2. The last time USC started a season 7-2 was the 2006-07 season. That team began the season 9-2. The Trojans are 4-0 at home this season.

    BREAKING DOWN THE VANDALS - Idaho is 5-4 with wins at San Jose State, at Linfield, at North Texas, vs. Troy and vs. CSU Bakersfield and losses at CSU Bakersfield, vs. Samford, vs. NIU and vs. Akransas-Little Rock. Victor Sanders leads the Vandals with a 14.3 points per game average. Idaho was 13-17 last season and returned one starter from that team. USC leads the all-time series 10-1, winning the last matchup 104-64 on Dec. 1, 1976.

    TEAM EFFORT LEADS TO WIN AT THE THUNDERDOME -- USC found itself down 12-4 four minutes into the game at UCSB, but battled a hostile crowd and the home team to grit-out a 75-63 at the Thunderdome on Dec. 3. Elijah Stewart led USC with 15 points and Julian Jacobs had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, his second this season. Nikola Jovanovic added 14 points, going a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line.

    YALE ON DECK - The Yale Bulldogs will be at the Galen Center for a game on Dec. 13 at 1 p.m., after playing at Illinois on Dec. 9. Yale is 5-3 following a 72-54 home win over Vermont on Dec. 5. It also has wins over Fairfield, Sacred Heart, Lehigh and Bryant and losses to SMU, Duke and Albany. Sophomore guard Makai Mason (16.8 ppg) and senior forward Justin Sears (15.6 ppg) lead the Bulldogs in scoring. Yale went 22-10 last season, returned 10 lettermen and was picked to win the Ivy League this season. The only meeting between the two schools was an 84-60 USC win on Dec. 29, 1988.

    FROM “J-MAC” TO “J-MASK” - Sophomore guard Jordan McLaughlin, a Pac-12 All-Freshman selection a year ago despite missing the final eight games due to injury, has come back from labral repair surgery to both shoulders to average 14.0 points and 2.6 rebounds in his first eight games. He also has 30 assists, 12 steals and a 14 three-point baskets. McLaughlin broke his nose late in the first half against Xavier on Nov. 27, sat out the rest of that game and has played wearing a mask since Nov. 29 vs. Monmouth. In the three games since getting hurt (2 wearing the mask to protect his nose), he has averaged 5.3 points and 1.7 assists. In the first five games, he averaged 19.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists. McLaughlin had a new fitted mask sized for him which he should be wearing on Monday vs. Idaho.

    BACKCOURT BOOMING -- In the first eight games, USC’s guards Jordan McLaughlin, Julian Jacobs and Elijah Stewart have combined to average 37.8 points, 13.9 rebounds and 9.9 assists per game. The trio has also averaged a combined 10.1 free throw attempts per game.

    MAKING A POINT - USC has scored 667 points in the first eight games of the season, its most to start a season since scoring 677 in the first eight games of the 2001 season.

    “BENNY BUCKETS” BECOMES “BENNY BLOCKS” - Freshman Bennie Boatwright led USC with a season-best four blocks, while adding five points and five rebounds in the win at UCSB on Dec. 3. He scored a season-best 22 points vs. Wichita State on Nov. 26, including making 5 of 9 three-point attempts. He then scored 16 points and grabbed 9 rebounds vs. Monmouth on Nov. 29. He is averaging 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds this season. He leads the team with 15 three-pointers made, is third in rebounds (46) and tied for second in blocks (8) on the team.

    TROJANS HOSTING A BLOCK PARTY - USC has registered 56 blocks in the first eight games for an average of 7.0 per game which ranks tied for third among all NCAA DI teams. USC had a total of 133 blocks in 32 games last season for a 4.2 blocks per game average.

    TALL AND TALENTED FRESHMAN TANDEM - USC’s freshman class is comprised of forwards Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu. Boatwright is 6-10 and averaged 27.8 points and 13 rebounds for Village Christian HS, en route to being named the CIF Southern Section Division 1AA Player of the Year. Metu is 6-11 and averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds for Lawndale HS, to earn the CIF Southern Section Division II Player of the Year. Despite foul trouble in four of his first eight college games, Boatwright is averaging 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds. Metu has averaged 4.3 points and 3.1 rebounds, while leading the team with 20 blocks.

    DEFENSE COMING UP BIG - USC held Wichita State to 35.1 percent shooting on Nov. 26. It was the fourth time in eight games this season that USC’s opponent shot under 40 percent in a game. USC shot under 40 percent for the first time this season on Nov. 29 vs. Monmouth. For the season, USC is making 45.5 percent of its shots, while its opponents are hitting 38.3 percent. The 38.3 shooting percentage by its opponents ranks 44th best in the country through games of Dec. 4.

    NICE START ON THE BOARDS -- USC has won or tied in the battle of the boards in six of the eight games with an average of 44.6 per contest. USC averaged 35.9 rebounds per game last season.

    DID THEY MOVE THE LINE? - USC was just 3-for-22 (13.6 percent) from three-point range in the loss vs. Monmouth on Nov. 29. In the previous four games, USC had made 46 three-pointers (46-for-98) for a 46.9 percentage. On the year, USC is averaging 37.3 percent from beyond the arc and has made 69 three-pointers for an average of 8.6 makes per game. The 69 three-pointers made are tied for the 32nd-most in the country. Last season USC made a total of 170 for an average of 5.3 makes per game.

    EVERYONE CHIPS IN -- USC has six players averaging 10.5 or more points and seven players have averaged 3.1 rebounds or more in the first eight games. USC had five players score in double figures vs. Monmouth on Nov. 16, the first time it had accomplished the feat since five scored in double figures in a 78-62 win vs. Boston College on Dec. 8, 2013.