Scouting report: USC
Game info: 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Galen Center (10,258 capacity).
TV: No TV.
Live Video: USCTrojans.com (free)
Radio: KJR 950 AM and 102.9 FM (Bob Rondeau and Jason Hamilton).
Record: 6-23, 1-23.
Stats/schedule: Click here.
Game notes: Click here.
Coach: Kevin O’Neill is 41-52 in his third season with the Trojans. He is 229-248 in 15 years as a college coach and 33-49 in one season in the NBA.
Prediction: Picked seventh in the Pac-12 by the media.
Series: USC leads 67-66 in a series that began 1925. The Huskies are 2-3 at the Galen Center and 27-38 during the regular season against USC in Los Angeles. O’Neill is 4-32 against Washington. He was 1-1 at Arizona and 3-1 with the Trojans. Lorenzo Romar is 12-7 against USC and 6-3 on the Trojans’ home floor.
Last meeting: Tony Wroten Jr. and Terrence Ross led Washington to a comfortable 69-41 win on Feb. 4 at Edmundson Pavilion. The Huskies led 29-12 and the Trojans never got closer than seven points in the second half. UW led by as many as 30 and outscored USC 40-22 after the break. Wroten finished with 13 points, eight assists and six rebounds in 29 minutes while Ross had a career-high 14 rebounds and 10 points in 33 minutes.
Last outing: USC lost 56-52 at Arizona State last Saturday.
PLAYER TO WATCH:
— At 5-7, sophomore guard Maurice Jones (above, shooting) struggled to get a decent look at the basket against Washington’s tall back court in their first encounter. He missed 10 of 13 shots, including all three three-point attempts. Jones never left the court and played the full 40 minutes, but finished with just eight points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals to offset three turnovers. Needless to say, it was a long night in what has been an awfully long season for the USC star. Before the season he was slated to be a solid role player and perhaps the second or third scoring option. Due to injuries and attrition, Jones has had to carry the team. He averages 38.1 minutes. He’s also responsible for 25.3 percent of USC’s scoring, which is tied for first in the Pac-12. Despite being among the shorter guards in the conference, Jones hasn’t been a liability defensively. In fact, he has 50 steals, which ranks fourth in the league. His 119 thefts are ninth on USC’s all-time steals list. Jones won the Pac-12 Player of the Week award on Nov. 27 and if USC wasn’t so awful, he might be an all-conference pick.
Photo credit: Seattle Times – Dean Rutz
— Freshman Byron Wesley has started every game and has emerged as a solid player the Trojans can build around next season. He ranks among the top Pac-12 freshmen in scoring (9.2, 7th), rebounds (5.0, 4th), assists (1.8, 7th), steals (0.8, 6th) and minutes (34.4, 1st). Wesley had a solid game against UW and finished with 12 points and five rebounds in 38 minutes.
— Sophomore forward Garrett Jackson scored a team-high 15 points in the Washington defeat. He also blocked four shots in 34 minutes. Since being inserted in the lineup 11 games ago, he’s averaged 10.7 points. He’s third on the team in scoring behind Jones and Wesley during that span.
— USC is riding a seven game losing streak and is on pace to finish with its worst ever conference record. The Trojans had a 6-20 record in the 1976-77 season, which was the lowest winning percentage (.231) in school history. USC finished the 1994-95 season with a 2-16 conference record, which is the school’s benchmark for futility.
— USC is the lowest scoring Pac-12 team averaging just 53.3 points.
— The Trojans are the worst shooting team in the conference. They’re last in field goal percentage (39.1), three-point percentage (27.4) and free throw percentage (61.2).
— More bad news. USC is last in the conference in rebounding margin (-8.6), assists (9.5 per game) and blocks (2.1).
— If there is a silver lining, the Trojans know how to play defense. They lead the Pac-12 in scoring defense allowing opponents 59.7 points per game. It’s not as if have stellar defenders. Opponents shoo. .437 percent against the Trojans, which is 10th in the conference. The Trojans keep the score down because they play conservatively offensively. Only four Pac-12 teams have scored more than 70 points against USC.
— Injuries have decimated the Trojans roster, which consists of six available scholarship players, two walk-ons and two players taller than 6-6.
— USC starts two freshmen (Byron Wesley and Alexis Moore) in the back court. O’Neill said ideally one and maybe both would have redshirted this season.
— Junior walk-on guard Daniel Munoz has played in 10 of the past 11 games. He’s an average ball handler who has given the Trojans spot minutes.
— The Trojans lost four starters (Vucevic, Stepheson, Donte Smith and Marcus Simmons) from a team that advanced to the NCAA tournament last season.
— USC also lost four projected starters to season ending injuries including: Fontan (knee), sophomore forward Evan Smith (shoulder), junior forward Aaron Fuller (shoulder) and sophomore center Dewayne Dedmon (knee).
C – James Blasczyk, 7-1, 260, Jr., 3.1 ppg., 2.9 rpg., 54.5 FT%.
F – Garrett Jackson, 6-7, 225, So., 6.5, 2.9, 0.7 spg.
G – Byron Wesley, 6-5, 210, Fr., 9.2, 5.0, 1.8 apg.
G – Alexis Moore, 6-2, 180, Fr., 4.4, 2.1, 28.6 FT%
G – Maurice Jones 5-7, 155, So., 13.5, 2.5, 3.4 apg.
— Washington will look to exploit Jones on the defensive end. The Huskies want to either get him in foul trouble or make him work defensively to tire him out and take away his legs in hopes he won’t be effective on the offensive end. It worked to perfection in the first meeting. Jones is the only USC player who can consistently create his own shot and Washington will need to keep tabs on him. He’s also mistake prone and leads the team with 70 turnovers. If he struggles, USC doesn’t have enough proven scorers to keep pace with the Huskies.