USC Closes Nonconference Play Hosting Lafayette Wednesday

    Junior forward Nikola Jovanovic was too tough to handle in the paint for SIUE on Monday. Jovanovic scored a season-high 21 points and matched a career high with 16 rebounds.
    Dec. 22, 2015

    The USC Trojans (10-2) will host the Lafayette Leopards (3-7) at the Galen Center on Dec. 23 at 7 p.m. The game will air on the Pac-12 Network and Pac-12 Los Angeles with Jim Watson and Don MacLean calling the action. USC’s 10-2 start is its best since the 2001-02 team began 13-2. USC has won its last five games and has two five-game winning streaks in a season for the first time since the 2008-09 season.

    LAFAYETTE CLOSES OUT NONCONFERENCE PLAY -The Lafayette Leopards are 3-7 following a 90-86 win at Sacred Heart on Dec. 12. Lafayette also has wins over St. Peter’s and Penn, with its losses coming against George Washington, NJIT, La Salle, Princeton, St. Francis, Cornell and Fairleigh Dickinson. Junior guard Nick Linder leads the Cougars with a 17.4 points per game average. Lafayette was 20-13 last season and lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Villanova. They returned two starters and nine lettermen from that team. USC won the only other meeting with Lafayette, 81-59 on Dec. 28, 2003.

    TROJANS DEFEAT SIUE -- Despite its second-worst shooting night of the season, the Trojans rolled to a 70-51 victory over SIUE on Dec. 21 at the Galen Center. USC rode the strength of its defense to the win, holding the Cougars to 27.9 percent shooting and blocking 10 shots. Nikola Jovanovic had a double-double with 21 points and matched his career high of 16 rebounds.

    PAC-12 ACTION BEGINS AT WSU ON JAN. 1 – The Washington State Cougars are 7-2 and will be playing three games at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawai’i between Dec. 22-25 before facing the Trojans. WSU’s first game at the DHC will be vs. No. 3/No. 2 Oklahoma on Dec. 22. Junior forward Josh Hawkinson is averaging a double-double and leads the Cougars with 16.5 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. USC lost its only game to WSU last season, a 70-66 setback at home on Feb. 25. USC leads the all-time series with the Cougars 69-48.



    SULTANS OF SWAT - USC has registered 81 blocks in the first 12 games and leads all Division I schools in total blocks through games of Dec. 21. USC’s average of 6.8 blocks per game ranks fourth 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.

    TOUGH ROAD AHEAD - Following tonight’s home game against Lafayette, USC will play five of its next seven games on the road, with one of the home games against Pac-12 preseason favorite No. 8 Arizona. USC has lost its last 10 Pac-12 road games and is 1-20 in its last 21 games on the road in conference dating back to the 2013 season. USC’s last Pac-12 road win was a 79-68 win at Washington State on March 6, 2014.

    J-MAC UNMASKED - 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 12.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists in his first 12 games. He also has 20 steals and a 20 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 played wearing a mask since Nov. 29 vs. Monmouth until playing “unmasked” vs. SIUE on Dec. 21. Excluding the game vs. Xavier when he broke his nose and didn’t play in the second half, in the six games he has played this season without wearing a mask he has averaged 18.0 points and in the five games with a mask on, 7.2 points. He scored 6 points in the first half against Xavier.

    TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE, JUST NOT THE TROJANS - With the game tonight (Wednesday) vs. Lafayette, USC will have played at least one game on every day of the week except Tuesday.

    MAKE IT A DECEMBER TO REMEMBER - USC is 5-0 in its December games this season. USC has not had a perfect month of December since going 6-0 during the 1991-1992 season.

    DEFENSE COMING UP BIG - USC held SIUE to 27.9 percent shooting on Dec. 21. It was the fifth time in 12 games this season that USC’s opponent shot under 40 percent in a game. For the season, USC is making 45.7 percent of its shots, while its opponents are hitting 38.2 percent. The 38.2 shooting percentage by its opponents ranks 31st best in the country through games of Dec. 21. USC has held its last six opponents to 42.6 percent shooting or less and 10 of 12 opponents this season. In fact, only one opponent has shot over 43.5 percent against USC (46.8 percent by Xavier on Nov. 27).

    EVERYONE CHIPS IN -- USC has six players averaging 8.7 or more points and seven players have averaged 3.1 rebounds or more in the first 12 games. Seven different Trojans have scored at least 16 points in a game this season. USC has four players with at least 16 three-point baskets this season. Last season, USC had only three players all season make 16 or more three-pointers. 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. USC then had six players score 10 or more points vs. Cal Poly on Dec. 17, the first time accomplishing that feat since Dec. 28, 2004 vs. Southern.

    POWERPOINT PRESENTATION - USC has scored 980 points in the first 12 games of the season, its most to start a season since scoring 986 in the first 12 games of the 2001 season. USC has scored 90 or more points four times, including 101 twice. USC had not reached the century mark in scoring in a game since the 2002 season. The 1997 season was the last for USC with two games scoring 100 or more points. USC’s 81.7 points per game average ranks 47th in the country. USC averaged 67.0 points last season.

    JACOBS SITS AGAINST SIUE - Julian Jacobs missed the game vs. Yale on Dec. 13 and vs. SIUE on Dec. 21 with tendinitis in his left Achilles. In between, he played on Dec. 17 vs. Cal Poly and posted a double-double with 13 assists and 10 points. The 13 assists tied for fourth on USC’s all-time single-game list and are tied for fourth in a game this season among all Division I players. Jacobs is averaging 12.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game this season. He also leads all Pac-12 players in assist per game (6.1), is 12th in steals per game (1.4) and is second in the conference with a 3.2 assist to turnover ratio.

    THE JUJU EFFECT - In the two games Julian “JuJu” Jacobs has missed, USC had its two lowest scoring outputs of the season, 68 points vs. Yale and 70 points vs. SIUE. USC also had a total of 19 assists compared to 25 turnovers in the two games

    THREE AT LAST, THREE AT LAST... - USC has made 101 three-point baskets this season to lead all Pac-12 teams and ranks tied for 41st in the country through games of Dec. 21. USC has finished 11th or 12th among Pac-12 teams in three-pointers made the last four seasons. USC has made six or more three-pointers in nine of the 12 games and five times has netted 12 or more, with a season-best 13 makes vs. CSUN on Nov. 23. On the year, USC is averaging 38.4 percent from beyond the arc (50th in the country), while its opponents are shooting 30.8 percent from long-range. Last season USC made a total of 170 three-pointers for an average of 5.3 makes per game.