College basketball: 23 things you should know about USC
Look who’s king of the college basketball mountain at the moment in Los Angeles.
Anyone notice USC is 15-3 after the Trojans marched into Pauley Pavilion on Wednesday night and disposed of UCLA 89-75? They had lost six in a row to the Bruins, and 10 of the last 11.
"They are growing, and they keep growing,’’ UCLA’s Tony Parker mentioned.
Time, then, to brush up on our USC-ese. Here are 23 things we should know about the Trojans:
1. USC hasn’t had a start this good in 24 years. If the voters are paying attention, they’ll be included in the top 25 in the next rankings for the first time in eight years.
2. Six Trojans average in double figures, from 13.5 to 10.6. All have led the team in scoring in a game. Their shots per game range from 10.6 to 7.5.
3. This time last season, USC was on the way to a 12-20 record. The year before, the Trojans were 11-21.
4. They’re 4-1 in the Pac-12 for the first time in 14 years. The last two seasons, they went 5-31 in league play.
5. No shocker then, they were picked to finish 10th in the conference this year.
6. Coach Andy Enfield rocketed to fame at Florida Gulf Coast with Dunk City, which became such a charming Sweet 16 story, he went from unknown to hot coaching name in two weeks. USC snapped him up after one good season. The Trojans had 71 dunks their first 18 games this season, and now they’re saying SC has become Slam City.
7. The Trojans are 11-0 at home for the first time since 1974. One more home win, against Washington State later this month, will make them 12-0 for the first time since 1943.
8. USC has not been to the NCAA Tournament since 2011, not won a tournament game since 2009, not made the Sweet 16 since 2001 or the Final Four since 1954. The school has 123 national championships, but the men’s basketball team has never played in a title game.
9. The Trojans have only 12 NCAA Tournament wins in their history, fewer than Penn and Princeton out of the Ivy League. Up the freeway, UCLA has 104.
10. The Trojans are 18th in the nation in scoring at 84.6. Last year they were 189th at 67.0
11. USC has broken 100 points four times. Before this season, the Trojans hadn’t done that since 2002.
12. Leading scorer Jordan McLaughlin is coming off surgery on both shoulders last year. He broke his nose this season against Xavier and had to wear a mask for five games. He’s averaged 7.2 points with a mask, and 17 without it, including 23 against UCLA.
13. McLaughlin’s haircut includes a gold mane down the middle. A student manager came up with the nickname Young Simba, from the main character in Lion King. McLaughlin has since changed his Twitter and Instagram names to Young Simba.
14. By the way, his mother is a hair stylist.
15. Enfield has had only one winning season in his career. Then again, he’s been a head coach for only five years.
16. The four-overtime win over Arizona was the longest USC game in 31 years.
17. Starting guard Julian Jacobs has nine siblings.
18. In the past four years, the Trojans finished 11th or 12th in the conference in 3-pointers. At the moment, they lead the Pac-12.
19. Enfield set an NCAA all-division record with a 92.5 career free throw shooting percentage in the early 1990s. He took 466 free throws as a collegian, and missed only 35. He’s now No. 3 on the all-time list.
20. His team is shooting 67.7 from the line, which is 224th in the nation.
21. USC has two freshmen, 6-foot-10 Bennie Boatwright and 6-11 Chimezie Metu. Together, they’ve combined for 18.8 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and 49 blocked shots. Boatwright’s father worked for the Los Angeles Police Department and took his kids to the LAPD Academy gym in the mornings at 6 a.m. so they could put up at least 500 shots a day.
22. Next on the USC itinerary is the Oregon Trail. First, Oregon on Jan. 21, then Oregon State three days later. It’s been a dangerous trip lately for the Trojans, who are 1-11 on that swing since 2009. But here is the last thing to know about USC.
23. The past doesn’t matter very much.