No. 23/No. 25 USC Faces Missouri State In Las Vegas Classic On Thursday

    Dec. 21, 2016

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    The USC Trojans (11-0) will play the Missouri State Bears (8-3) at the Orleans Arena as part of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic on Dec. 22 at 8:00 p.m. USC’s 11-0 start is its best since the 1971 team began 16-0 on the way to a 24-2 record. The 11-game winning streak by USC is its longest at any point during one season since the 16 games in 1971.

    BREAKING DOWN MISSOURI STATE -- Missouri State is coming off a 66-46 win over Chicago State on Dec. 19 to run its winning streak to three games. Three Bears are scoring in double figures, led by junior guard Ronnie Rousseau who is averaging 13.2 points per game. This will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools.

    USC RALLIES FOR WIN OVER CORNELL -- Chimezie Metu scored 17 points and Jordan McLaughlin added 16 points and nine assists to help USC stay unbeaten with a 79-67 victory over Cornell on Dec. 19. After getting off to a slow start, the Trojans overcame an early 10-point deficit. They took the lead late in the first half and never trailed after halftime. USC used its height advantage and outrebounded Cornell 43-28. Stone Gettings scored 22 points for the Big Red, Rob Hatter had 20 and Matt Morgan added 15. With the Trojans hitting just one of their first eight shots, Cornell jumped out to a 16-6 lead behind a trio of three-pointers from Gettings. Cornell was still up by nine with less than eight minutes to play in the first half when USC started its comeback. Elijah Stewart hit a three-pointer in the last minute of the first half to give USC a 37-34 lead at the break. Cornell made a USC opponent season-high 12 three-point baskets.

    DEPAUL OR WYOMING ON DECK -- USC’s next game will be against either DePaul or Wyoming. The winner of tonight’s game will face the winner of the DePaul/Wyoming game on Dec. 23 at 8 p.m., while the two losing teams tonight will play on Dec. 23 at 5:30 p.m. DePaul is 7-4 and is coming off an 81-78 victory over SE Missouri State on Dec. 19. Guards Eli Cain (20.5 ppg) and Billy Garrett Jr. (14.3 ppg) lead the Blue Demons in scoring. USC leads the all-time series with DePaul 4-3, but lost the last meeting 89-78 on March 11, 1979 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Wyoming is 9-2 and ran its winning streak to six with a 72-66 victory over Troy on Dec. 19. The Cowboys have four players averaging in double figures, led by sophomore guard Justin James at 16.8 points per game. USC leads the all-time series with Wyoming 7-4, winning the last meeting 68-55 on Nov. 13, 2001.

    AND THEN THERE WERE SIX... -- USC is one of six Division I schools (out of 351) which is still undefeated this season through games of Dec. 20.

    TORCHING THE TWINE -- After beginning the season making 38.0 percent of its shots and 24.7 from three-point range in the first three games, the Trojans have heated up. In the last eight games, USC is shooing 49.9 percent from the floor (239-for-479), including 40.2 percent from three-point range (72-for-179).

    SULTANS OF SWAT -- USC set a school record for blocks in a game with 14 vs. Pepperdine on Dec. 11, then followed it up with nine vs. Troy on Dec. 17 and 10 vs. Cornell on Dec. 19. USC is averaging 7.0 blocks per game which ranks 7th in the country and is on a pace which would break last season’s school record total of 188. Four different Trojans have at least 12 blocks in USC’s first 11 games: Metu (23), Stewart (19), Rakocevic (12) and Melton (12).

    PRECISION FROM THE POINT -- Junior point guard Jordan McLaughlin has efficiently led the USC offense while averaging 13.6 points 3.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists. He is also making 55.2 percent of his shots (53-for-96), including 7-for-7 vs. Pepperdine on Dec. 11. He ranks third among Pac-12 players with 57 assists and second with a 2.7 assist to turnover ratio through games on Dec. 20. In the last eight games, McLaughlin has 45 assists and 13 turnovers. In the last four games, he has averaged 19.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists, while shooting 62.8 percent from the floor (27-for-43).

    ENJOYING THE HOLIDAY TURNOVERS -- USC has commited just 10.5 assists per game which ranks tied for 12th in the country. USC has committed 115 turnovers compared to its opponent’s 141 and enjoys a 182-103 advantage on points off of turnovers.

    NOTHING SAYS CHRISTMAS LIKE BASKETBALL -- USC is busy during the holiday seasson, playing six games in 14 days between Dec. 17 and Dec. 30.

    SECOND TO NONE -- USC scored 53 points in the second half against UCSB on Nov. 27, 52 in the second half against BYU on Dec. 3 and has averaged 44.4 points (488 total) after the break this season. USC’s opponents have averaged 35.6 points (392 total) in the second half against the Trojans. USC has won or tied in second-half scoring in every game this season.

    BALANCE WITH THE BALL -- Eight different Trojans have scored at least 13 points in a game this season and six are averaging at least 9.0 points per game.

    LONG-RANGE SNIPER STEWART -- Junior guard Elijah Stewart made a career-high seven three-point baskets vs. Pepperdine on Dec. 11 to tie for fourth on USC’s single-game three-point baskets made list. He made three more against Troy on Dec. 17 and one vs. Cornell on Dec. 19, giving him at least one made shot from beyond the arc in 18 consecutive games dating back to last season. His career total of 128 three-pointers made ranks 12th on USC’s all-time list, five behind Anthony Pendleton who is 11th with 133. Stewart leads USC with a 15.5 ppg average and with 31 three-point baskets, while ranking second in rebounds (65), blocks (19) and third in free throws made (28). He has also scored in double figures in nine of 11 games this season, with a high of 30 points.

    METU CONTINUES HIS RISE -- Sophomore Chimezie Metu scored 11 points and had 10 rebounds vs. Pepperdine on Dec. 11 for his third double-double of the season and fourth of his career. In the last six games he has averaged 15.3 points (92 total) and 8.0 rebounds (48 total). For the season he is averaging 13.3 points and 7.8 rebounds and leads the team with 23 blocks, 20 dunks and second on the team with 13 steals. He has been a consistent force for the Trojans with double-figures in points and six or more rebounds in nine of the 11 games this season.