Monday, December 15, 2008


From the Los Angeles Times
Trojans beat the 'Dine, but they aren't fine with it
USC manages to hold off the hapless Waves, 91-77, but another second-half letdown leaves Coach Tim Floyd and his players unhappy.By Gary Klein December 16, 2008
USC got back on the winning track Monday night, but you'd never know it by visiting the Trojans' locker room.Point guard Daniel Hackett sat with his head in his hands, refusing to discuss the Trojans' 91-77 victory over Pepperdine, and other players wore similarly long expressions after the game at the Galen Center."It's really getting kind of frustrating with the second-half collapses," guard Dwight Lewis said after the Trojans lost nearly all of their 23-point halftime lead
.A second half marked by turnovers, defensive breakdowns and red-hot three-point shooting by Pepperdine took the joy out of what started as a great night for the Trojans.Despite a one-point defeat at Oklahoma on Dec. 4, USC had come into the first of four consecutive home games buoyed by its performance against the Sooners.The Trojans had used the 10 days to polish their strong points and shore up their weaknesses.
But Coach Tim Floyd looked anything but refreshed after watching his team almost give away a victory to a Pepperdine team that made seven of 12 three-point shots in the second half."I'm not sure we really know how to win yet," said Floyd, whose team improved to 6-3.The Trojans believed their strong second-half play at Oklahoma had cured them of the collapses that cost them against Seton Hall and Missouri at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in November.But once again they were plagued by miscues in the final 30 minutes.Hackett, who had 16 points, six assists and six steals, had ended the first half with consecutive three-pointers for a 54-31 lead. But he and fellow point guard Donte Smith ultimately combined for 10 of the Trojans' 20 turnovers.The Trojans also seemed to ease up on defense, giving Pepperdine open shots that the Waves knocked down with growing confidence as the second half progressed.USC forward Taj Gibson said the turnovers were not always the result of bad passes. Often, it was not enough effort by players on the receiving end."We had them down at halftime and then some guys got lackadaisical," said Gibson, who scored a game-high 25 points and had 11 rebounds. "Toward the end we kind of locked down on defense but come Pac-10, we can't let that happen."That's a good team, but that's not a Pac-10 team."Pepperdine came out firing from long range after the break, guards Keion Bell and Lorne Jackson and forward
Mychel Thompson making three-pointers as the Waves cut the lead to 58-50. The deficit was only five points, 67-62, after Dane Suttle made a three-pointer with 9:30 remaining. But a Lewis free throw put the Trojans up by six, a margin the Waves ultimately could not overcome.Bell finished with a team-high 18 points for the Waves, who shot 50% from the field and 58% from three-point range in the second half."If we continue to play like we did in the first half, we are going to struggle this year," said Pepperdine Coach Tom Asbury, whose team fell to 1-9 with its ninth consecutive loss. "If we play like we did in the second half, we will be all right."Etc. Earlier in the day, the NCAA cleared 6-10 freshman Nikola Vucevic after a lengthy review of his amateur status. Vucevic, 18, had played in a few games for a professional club team in Montenegro. He made his USC debut midway through the first half and finished with two points and two rebounds in six minutes. . . . Guard Marcus Simmons, who returned to the team Friday after telling Floyd on Monday that he would transfer, missed his only field-goal attempt in eight minutes. . . . Reserve guard Percy Miller did not suit up because of a concussion, an athletic department official said.Klein is a Times staff

Waves Have Great Second Half in Loss at USC
Courtesy: Pepperdine Sports Information
Release: 12/15/2008

Pepperdine-USC Box Score
Courtesy: Martin A. Folb

LOS ANGELES, Calif. ­— In a season that will be measured by its overall improvement, the second half of the Pepperdine men’s basketball team’s 91-77 loss at USC on Monday evening at the Galen Center will hopefully be a sign of even better things to come.

The young Waves (1-9) trailed by 23 points at halftime, but played some of their best basketball of the season after the break to cut the deficit to five points with 9 ½ minutes left. They were still down by just six points with less than four minutes to go before finally succumbing to the Trojans (6-3), one of the preseason favorites in the Pacific-10 Conference.

Five Waves scored in double-figures for the first time this season, led by 18 points from freshman guard Keion Bell (Los Angeles, Calif./Pasadena HS). Freshman forward Dane Suttle Jr. (Los Angeles, Calif./Summit College Prep) scored 14 points, freshman forward Taylor Darby (San Marcos, Calif./Mission Hills HS) had 12 points,
freshman guard Lorne Jackson (Simi Valley, Calif./Simi Valley HS) added 11 points and sophomore forward Mychel Thompson (Ladera Ranch, Calif./Stoneridge Prep) scored 10 points. After committing 13 first-half turnovers that helped USC get out to a 54-31 lead at the break, the Waves sank seven second-half three-pointers, shot 50% and outscored the Trojans 46-37.

“We started to guard them a little bit, and we stopped turning the ball over,” Pepperdine Coach Tom Asbury said. “Playing zone bothered them a little bit. We didn’t give up so many easy shots, although they still hurt us inside. We’re getting better. If we can take how we played in the second half and build on that, we’ll be fine.”
The Waves hit their first three shots and took a 7-5 lead after 2 ½ minutes. Sophomore center Denis Agre (Sofia, Bulgaria/Central Arizona JC) sank a short jumper from the left baseline, Darby dribbled in from the free throw line and put in a right-handed bank shot and Thompson nailed a deep three-pointer.

USC then went on a 12-0 run fueled by several Pepperdine turnovers, giving USC a 17-7 lead. The streak ended when Thompson dribbled down the left baseline and hit a short jumper with 14 ½ minutes left. But the Trojans came right back with another 13-2 run to extend the lead to 30-11 with 10 ½ minutes to go. The teams roughly traded baskets the rest of the half, although the Trojans increased their lead to 54-31 at halftime.
The Waves began the second half with their finest stretch of the game, if not the entire season. They outscored the Trojans 19-4 over the first four-plus minutes to cut the lead to single digits. Jackson hit two three-pointers and made two free throws, and Bell and Thompson each made one three-pointer. The run was highlighted by Bell’s steal at midcourt and a massive right-handed jam over USC’s freshman star DeMar DeRozan. Bell was fouled on the play and made the ensuing free throw to make it 58-50 with 15:41 left. USC’s Taj Gibson scored the next four points, but another three-point play by Bell and a deep three-pointer from straightaway by Suttle got the Waves even closer at 62-56 with 12:27 to go. Another Suttle three-pointer made it a five-point game at 67-62 with 9:30 to play. The Waves got the ball back with a couple of chances to cut further into the lead but a couple of turnovers and missed shots prevented that from happening.
It was still just a six-point lead at 77-71 with 3:50 to play after a driving lay-up by Jackson, but the Trojans were finally able to pull away from there.
The Waves tied a season high with nine three-pointers. USC finished with a 58.9%-45.6% edge in shooting and a 50-24 advantage in points in the paint. Pepperdine (19) finished with fewer turnovers than USC (20). The Waves had their largest halftime deficit of the season, but also had their largest margin of outscoring the opponent in the second half of the season.
USC’s Gibson, an All-American candidate, was the big difference in the contest, as he finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds. He was one of five Trojans that were in double-figures at halftime.

Of the 11 players that saw action for the Waves, nine were freshmen or sophomores, and seven weren’t on the roster last year. The Waves played their sixth straight game without Ryan Holmes (Phoenix, Ariz./Millennium HS/Phoenix CC), their starting point guard and one of just three seniors, who is sidelined by a knee injury.
The Waves, who are in the midst of playing four games in eight days, next visit Cal State Northridge on Thursday (Dec. 18) at 7 p.m. Subscribers to “Wave Casts” at can hear Al Epstein’s call of the action.

USC Powers Past Pepperdine, 91-77
Taj Gibson scored a career-high 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

Men's Basketball Home

USC Powers Past Pepperdine, 91-77
USC To Host Pepperdine On Monday At The Galen Center

Dec. 15, 2008
Box Score
Los Angeles, Calif. (AP) - Taj Gibson scored a career-high 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and Southern California held off Pepperdine's second-half rally to win 91-77 Monday night.
Dwight Lewis added 17 points, Daniel Hackett 16, Leonard Washington 14 and DeMar DeRozan 10 for the Trojans (6-3), who improved to 5-0 at Galen Center.
Keion Bell scored 18 points for the Waves (1-9), who lost their ninth in a row and haven't won since their season opener against Cal State Monterey Bay.
Pepperdine got within six points with 3 1/2 minutes remaining before the Trojans closed the game on a 14-6 run. Washington scored seven points and Hackett added four in the decisive spurt.

Gibson leads USC past Pepperdine
Trojans hand Waves 9th straight loss
The Associated Press Tuesday, December 16, 2008

LOS ANGELES — Maybe it was the 23-point halftime lead. Maybe it was the 11 days between games. Whatever the reason, USC nearly cost itself a victory.
Taj Gibson scored a career-high 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and USC held off Pepperdine's second-half rally to win 91-77 Monday night.
Dwight Lewis added 17 points, Daniel Hackett 16, Leonard Washington 14 and DeMar DeRozan 10 for the Trojans (6-3), who improved to 5-0 at Galen Center and totaled a season-high in points.
Keion Bell scored 18 points for the Waves (1-9), who lost their ninth in a row and haven't won since their season opener against Cal State Monterey Bay.
Like USC, Pepperdine also had five players in double figures. Dane Suttle Jr. added 14, Taylor Darby 12, Simi Valley High graduate Lorne Jackson 11 and Mychal Thompson 10.
"If we continue to play like we did in the first half, we are going to struggle this year," said Pepperdine coach Tom Asbury, who's into his second stint with the Waves. "If we play like we did in the second half, we will be all right."
The Waves trailed by 23 points in the first half, and their previous second halves didn't indicate they could make a serious dent. But they outscored an opponent in the final 20 minutes for the second time this season.
Pepperdine shot 58 percent from 3-point range, 50 percent from the floor and 79 percent from the line in the second half while outscoring the Trojans 46-37, and nearly pulling off a much-wanted victory over a quality opponent.
"They really took it to us and played way more aggressively than we did in the second half," USC coach Tim Floyd said. "I've always said, ‘If you can't guard the 3-point line, you can't guard.' "
Both teams combined for 39 turnovers, with the biggest damage at the point guard position. Bell had six of Pepperdine's 19 miscues, while Hackett committed seven of the Trojans' 20.
"We gave them 20 points off turnovers and we are not going to win playing like that, but with a young team you kind of expect that," Asbury said. "At one point, we had four freshmen and one sophomore on the court and that is just what is going to happen."
Pepperdine got within six points with 3 minutes remaining before the Trojans closed the game on a 14-6 run. Washington scored seven points and Hackett added four in the decisive spurt.
"We had a little letdown in the second half," Gibson said. "We didn't talk on defense. It hurt us. The challenge for us was getting back on defense."
Gibson was 10 of 12 from the floor, and had three blocked shots and two of USC's 13 steals.
"He's playing the best basketball he's played since he's been here," Floyd said about the junior forward.
USC hadn't played since losing 73-72 at then-No. Oklahoma on Dec. 4.
The Trojans saw their 23-point halftime lead shrink when the Waves opened the second half on a 19-4 run.
Jackson had two 3-pointers and Bell and Thompson added one each and Bell dunked in the spurt that drew the Waves to 58-50.
Pepperdine kept up the pressure, getting a three-point play from Bell and a 3-pointer by Suttle to close within six with 12:08 remaining.
The Waves cut their deficit to 67-62 on a 3-pointer by Suttle with 9:29 remaining. The Trojans made it 77-67 on a four-point play by Donte Smith, who fell down in front of USC's bench making a 3-pointer and got fouled, and Gibson's dunk.
Jackson split defenders and converted a one-handed layup to again draw the Waves within six with 3:52 remaining.
That's when USC took over with its game-ending spurt. Washington, a freshman, beat the shot-clock buzzer with a 3-pointer and then hit a basket for USC's final points.
"We have all the confidence in the world in him," Lewis said. "He's hustling and that's what we need."
. .
Locals in college notebook:
By Rhiannon Potkey Sunday, December 14, 2008

Around the rim: UC San Diego senior forward Shane Poppen (Thousand Oaks) was the school's male athlete of the week for his performance off the bench in wins over Humboldt State and Sonoma State. Poppen scored a season-high 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds against Humboldt State and had 11 points and seven rebounds against Sonoma State. ... UC San Diego center A.J. Maulhardt (Nordhoff) scored 14 points and seven rebounds in the win over Humboldt State. ... Westmont sophomore forward Dan Rasp (Camarillo) scored 21 points in a victory over Hope International. Rasp was 7 of 10 from the field and the free-throw line. ... Pepperdine freshman guard Lorne Jackson (Simi Valley) tied his season high with 17 points in a loss to UC Irvine. ... Washington junior guard Sami Whitcomb (Buena) had a nice opening return to Southern California. Whitcomb scored 16 of her 18 points in the second half, including three straight 3-pointers, in a victory over Pepperdine. Whitcomb also led the Huskies with five assists. ... Junior guard Jacqui Heck (Oxnard, Ventura College) scored 11 points as the Academy of Art University recorded its first win in program history with a 68-66 victory over Dominican University. ... USC senior guard Brynn Cameron (Newbury Park) was 3 for 4 from behind the 3-point line to finish with nine points in a loss to BYU-Hawaii.
News and notes: Freshman Peter Kurzeka (Agoura) was a member of USC's NCAA championship men's water polo team this season. USC beat Stanford 7-5 last Sunday to win its fourth men's water polo championship and first since 2005. The Trojans finished 29-0 — the first undefeated season since 1944 when the program went 5-0. Kurzeka was a second-team all-NCAA Tournament selection. ... Pepperdine senior outside hitter Julie Rubenstein (Oaks Christian) was named to the AVCA Division I all-Pacific Region women's volleyball team. ...

Chris Dufresne:
Not exactly bowled over
With 34 bowl games this time around, where would you rather spend the holiday season: Detroit or South Florida?

9: Emerald (Dec. 27):California (8-4) vs. Miami (7-5)Bay Area marketing team torn between slogans "Free Speech vs. South Beach" and "B.A.R.T. vs. B.O.C.A (Raton)."Winner: Cal