No. 23/No. 25 USC To Face Wyoming In Las Vegas Classic Final Today

    Dec. 23, 2016

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    The USC Trojans (12-0) will play the Wyoming Cowboys (10-2) in the championship game of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic at the Orleans Arena on Dec. 23 at 8:00 p.m. USC’s 12-0 start is its best since the 1971 team began 16-0 on the way to a 24-2 record. The 12-game winning streak by USC is its longest at any point during one season since the 16 games in 1971 and tied for the sixth-longest in school history.

    BREAKING DOWN WYOMING -- Wyoming is 10-2 and ran its winning streak to seven with a 72-58 victory over DePaul on Dec. 22. The Cowboys have four players averaging in double figures, led by sophomore guard Justin James at 16.3 points per game. USC leads the all-time series with Wyoming 7-4, winning the last meeting 68-55 on Nov. 13, 2001.

    USC DEFEATS MISSOURI STATE -- USC scored the first six points of the game and never trailed in an 83-75 win over Missouri State on Dec. 22 at the Orleans Arena to advance to the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic final. Chimezie Metu scored the first four points on a pair of dunks in the first 1:04 of the game. He finished with 13 points, nine rebounds, three blocks and four assists. Elijah Stewart led USC with 21 points, making 4 of 6 three-point attempts. USC led 39-28 at halftime and by 19 points with 9 minutes remaining before the Bears made a final comeback attempt. Missouri State made five three-pointers in the final four minutes, including one at the buzzer, to cut the final margin to eight points. USC was outscored 47-44 in the second half, the first time this season being outscored after the break. USC shot 54.7 percent from the floor, while holding Missouri State to 37.5 percent shooting. The Bears made a USC 2016-17 opponent high 14 3-pointers and shot 38.9 percent from beyond the arc. Jordan McLaughlin added 19 points and 5 assists for USC. USC outscored Missouri State 38-18 on points in the paint.

    OREGON STATE ON DECK -- USC’s next game will be its Pac-12 opener at Oregon State (4-9) on Dec. 28 at 8 p.m. The Beavers are coming off a 69-50 home win vs. Kent State on Dec. 21. Leading scorer Tres Tinkle (20.2 ppg) last played on Nov. 25 due to a wrist injury, but three other Beavers are scoring in double figures, led by Stephen Thompson (14.1 ppg). USC split the 2016 season series with OSU, with both teams winning their home games. USC leads the all-time series with OSU, 68-63, with two wins vacated due to NCAA penalty. USC has lost its last seven games at Oregon State, with five of those games decided by six points or less.

    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. 22.

    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 nine games, USC is shooing 50.4 percent from the floor (268-for-532), including 40.4 percent from three-point range (80-for-198).

    SULTANS OF SWAT -- USC set a school record for blocks in a game with 14 vs. Pepperdine on Dec. 11 and has recorded 37 blocks in the last four games. USC is averaging 6.8 blocks per game which ranks 8th 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 12 games: Metu (26), Stewart (19), Melton (13) and Rakocevic (12).

    PRECISION FROM THE POINT -- Junior point guard Jordan McLaughlin has efficiently led the USC offense while averaging 14.1 points 3.3 rebounds and 5.2 assists. He is also making 54.1 percent of his shots (59-for-109), including 7-for-7 vs. Pepperdine on Dec. 11. He ranks third among Pac-12 players with 62 assists and second with a 2.6 assist to turnover ratio through games on Dec. 22. In the last nine games, McLaughlin has 50 assists and 16 turnovers. In the last five games, he has averaged 19.6 points (98 total), 3.6 rebounds (18 total) and 5.4 assists (27 total), while shooting 58.9 percent from the floor (33-for-56).

    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 4 of 6 three-pointers vs. Missouri State on Dec. 22 and has made at least one shot from beyond the arc in 19 consecutive games dating back to last season. His career total of 132 three-pointers made ranks 12th on USC’s all-time list, one behind Anthony Pendleton who is 11th with 133. Stewart leads USC with a 16.0 ppg average and with 35 three-point baskets, while ranking second in rebounds (67), blocks (19) and third in free throws made (31). He has also scored in double figures in 10 of 12 games this season, with a high of 30 points. Stewart’s 2.9 made three-pointers per game leads all Pac-12 players.

    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 seven games he has averaged 15.0 points (105 total) and 8.1 rebounds (57 total). For the season he is averaging 13.3 points and 7.9 rebounds and leads the team with 26 blocks, 22 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 10 of the 12 games this season.

    DE’ANTHONY DOING IT ALL -- Freshman guard De’Anthony Melton scored seven points, had five rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal in the win vs. Troy on Dec. 17 and is second among all Pac-12 Conference players with 23 steals. He has at least two steals in seven of 12 games and averages 1.9 steals per game. Melton is averaging 9.3 points and 5.5 rebounds, while ranking second on the team with 42 assists. He ranks fifth in the conference with a 2.1 assist to turnover ratio.

    THE YOUNG WILL LEAD -- USC’s roster has only one scholarship senior and two scholarship juniors and 63.7 percent of the minutes played this season (1529 of 2400 minutes) has been by freshmen or sophomores. Ken Pom lists USC 328th in the country in terms of game experience.

    DOING IT WITH DEFENSE -- USC has held the opposition to 68.3 points per game and to a .389 shooting percentage. USC has held eight of its opponents to under 40 percent shooting and only two over 41.5 percent (UCSB 45.5 percent & BYU 43.5). USC has also only had one game in which it has had more fouls than its opponent (23-22 vs. SMU).