No. 22 USC Opens Pac-12 Play At Oregon State Wednesday|
Dec. 26, 2016
The USC Trojans (13-0) will play the Oregon State Beavers (4-9) in Corvallis, Ore. on Dec. 28 at 8:00 p.m. USC’s 13-0 start is its best since the 1971 team began 16-0 on the way to a 24-2 record. The 13-game winning streak by USC is its longest at any point during one season since the 16 games in 1971 and tied for the fifth-longest in school history.
BREAKING DOWN OREGON STATE -- 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.
USC NEEDS OVERTIME TO PUT AWAY WYOMING -- Jordan McLaughlin drove through the lane and made a left-handed layup with 4.5 seconds left in overtime to lift No. 23/25 USC to a 94-92 victory over Wyoming in the championship game of the Las Vegas Classic on Dec. 23. McLaughlin, the Classic’s MVP, finished with 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Jonah Mathews led the Trojans with career highs of 26 points and six steals while De’Anthony Melton added 16 points and eight rebounds. Haydon Dalton, who had 18 points and 18 rebounds for Wyoming, forced overtime by hitting an improbable three-pointer with 2.3 seconds left after Melton missed a front end of a 1-and-1 with 15 seconds left and USC leading 85-82. After Wyoming trailed 50-44 at halftime, the Cowboys grabbed a 52-51 lead and later extended it to 68-62. But USC responded and took an 82-78 lead. The Cowboys answered with four straight points, to tie it with 1:40 remaining. The Trojans took the lead on a layup by Elijah Stewart with 1:22 left and seemingly had the game in hand until the final seconds of regulation. Wyoming’s Jeremy Lieberman’s three-pointer at the OT buzzer rimmed out.
USC IN PAC-12 ROAD OPENERS -- USC defeated Washington State 90-77 on Jan. 1, 2016 in Pullman, Wash. to snap a six-game losing streak in Pac-12 road openers and is 9-11 in its last 20 conference road openers.
OREGON ON DECK -- USC’s next game will be at No. 21 Oregon (11-2, 0-0) in Eugene, Ore. on Dec. 30 at 7:00 p.m. Oregon improved to 11-2 with a 75-63 home win vs. Fresno State on Dec. 20 and will host No. 2 UCLA on Dec. 28 before facing USC. Five Ducks are averaging double figures in points led by senior forward Chris Boucher (14.1 ppg). USC leads the all-time series with Oregon 60-54 (2 wins vacated due to NCAA penalty), but has lost its last 12 games against the Ducks. USC last defeated Oregon 80-66 on March 5, 2009 and last won in Oregon (6 straight losses) on Jan. 2, 2009 (83-62). Oregon has won 33 consecutive home games.
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. 25.
USC WRAPS UP NONCONFERNCE PLAY UNDEFEATED -- USC went 13-0 during the nonconfernce action, just the sixth time in school history going undefeated in the regular season aganist nonconference opponents. USC also did not lose to a nonconference team in the regular season during the 1924, 1929, 1940, 1953 and 1971 seasons.
BOATWRIGHT IN DOCK -- An MRI on the left knee of USC sophomore forward Bennie Boatwright revealed a Grade 2 sprain of his medial collateral ligament and he is expected to miss six weeks. Boatwright was injured three minutes into USC’s 76-55 win at San Diego on Nov. 30, when a player collided with him as he attempted a shot under the basket. He left the game immediately and had an MRI on Dec. 1 which revealed the Grade 2 sprain of the MCL in his left knee. The Trojan co-captain is averaging 10.8 points and 4.0 rebounds in five games.
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 10 games, USC is shooing 49.6 percent from the floor (304-for-613), including 39.8 percent from three-point range (88-for-221).
PRECISION FROM THE POINT -- USC junior point guard Jordan McLaughlin has efficiently led the USC offense while averaging 14.7 points 3.5 rebounds and 5.2 assists. He is also making 51.9 percent of his shots (68-for-131), including 7-for-7 vs. Pepperdine on Dec. 11. He ranks third among Pac-12 players with 67 assists and second with a 2.8 assist to turnover ratio through games on Dec. 25. In the last 10 games, McLaughlin has 55 assists and 16 turnovers. In the last six games, he has averaged 20.0 points (120 total), 4.2 rebounds (25 total) and 5.3 assists (32 total), while shooting 53.8 percent from the floor (42-for-78). McLaughlin has 327 career assists which ranks seventh on USC’s all-time assists list. Gus Williams is sixth on the list with 362 career assists as a Trojan.
SULTANS OF SWAT -- USC set a school record for blocks in a game with 14 vs. Pepperdine on Dec. 11 and has recorded 41 blocks in the last five games. USC is averaging 6.5 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 13 blocks in USC’s first 13 games: Metu (27), Stewart (20), Melton (14) and Rakocevic (13).
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 43.6 points (567 total) after halftime this season. USC’s opponents have averaged 36.9 points (480 total) in the second half against the Trojans. USC has won or tied in second-half scoring in every game this season except for Dec. 22 vs. Missouri State (44-47) and Dec. 23 vs. Wyoming (35-41).
BALANCE WITH THE BALL -- Eight different Trojans have scored at least 13 points in a game this season and six are averaging at least 9.8 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 has made at least one shot from beyond the arc in 20 consecutive games dating back to last season. His career total of 133 three-pointers made ranks tied for 11th with Anthony Pendleton on USC’s all-time list, 12 behind Stais Boseman who is 10th with 145. Stewart leads USC with a 15.5 ppg average and with 36 three-point baskets, while ranking second in blocks (20) and third in free throws made (32) and rebounds (71). He has also scored in double figures in 11 of 13 games this season, with a high of 30 points. Stewart’s 2.8 made three-pointers per game is tied for first among 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 eight games he has averaged 14.5 points (116 total) and 8.0 rebounds (64 total). For the season he is averaging 13.1 points and 7.8 rebounds and leads the team with 27 blocks and 26 dunks, while being tied for third on the team with 14 steals. He has been a consistent force for the Trojans with double-figures in points and six or more rebounds in 11 of the 13 games this season.
DE’ANTHONY DOING IT ALL -- Freshman guard De’Anthony Melton scored a career-high 16 points, had eight rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal in the win vs. Wyoming on Dec. 23. He currently is tied for first among Pac-12 players with 24 steals. He has at least two steals in seven of 13 games and averages 1.8 steals per game. Melton is averaging 9.8 points and 5.7 rebounds, while ranking second on the team with 44 assists. He ranks fifth in the conference with a 2.0 assist to turnover ratio.
MATHEWS HAS BREAKOUT GAME -- Freshman guard Jonah Mathews has provided USC with valuable minutes off the bench all season, but none more impressive than in the overtime win vs. Wyoming on Dec. 23. With several Trojans in foul trouble, Mathews played a season-high 39 minutes and scored a career-best 26 points and registered a USC 2016-17 best six steals. Mathews made 5 of 8 three-pointers, including a cluch trey to tie the game at 90-all in overtime. He is averaging 6.7 points, 2.1 rebounds and it tied for third on the team with 14 three-point baskets.
THE YOUNG WILL LEAD -- USC’s roster has only one scholarship senior and two scholarship juniors and 63.9 percent of the minutes played this season (1677 of 2625 minutes) has been by freshmen or sophomores. Ken Pom lists USC 328th in the country in terms of game experience.