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Basketball: USC scouting report

TIPOFF: 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Galen Center, Los Angeles. TV: None. Radio: 910-AM.

This is NOT a game Cal can afford to lose.

“The game we’ve got to have is SC right now, without question, unequivocally, no questions asked,” said Cal coach Mike Montgomery, when asked about concerns his team might look ahead to UCLA on Saturday.

The Trojans reside in last place in the Pac-12 standings and have won just once since Dec. 19. But they battled Cal in Berkeley before losing 53-49 and just last weekend trailed 29-23 minutes into the second half at Washington, then were buried.

“They’re still competing really hard. They’re in a lot of games. They just can’t sustain,” Montgomery said. “They’re up at Washington and they’re giving them fits.”

Montgomery has been impressed by the adjustments coach Kevin O’Neill has made while watching his players picked off, one by one, by injuries.

“He’s got ‘em playing hard,” Montgomery said. ”He’s doing a great job of utilizing what he has — kind of gone to a five-out deal now, which makes it difficult to defend. They’ve got all their big guys away from the basket, which opens up the court.”

Sophomore point guard Justin Cobbs, making a visit home to Los Angeles, said the Bears only need to recall their first game with USC to stay on task.

“We had a great lead and were playing well, and they ended up coming back. They hit a couple shots down the stretch and it was a four-point game and we were on our heels,” Cobbs said. “Just thinking back to that, we know anything can happen. Just make sure we focus. We’re right where we want to be.”

The Bears play five of their final seven Pac-12 games on the road — as do first-place Washington, and Colorado, which shares second with Cal.

“On the road, we need to go out and get it any way possible — one point, 20 points, anything,” Cobbs said. “As long as we end up getting the win.”

Cal is 2-2 in Pac-12 road games. USC is 1-4 at home in the conference and has drawn crowds under under 3,200 in three of those five games. The Bears won’t face a more accomodating set of circumstances on the road the rest of the season.

 

   ABOUT THE TROJANS: USC has been decimated by injuries, with five players — three of them starters — out for the season. C Dewayne Dedmon (7.6ppg, 5.5 rpg) and PF Aaron Fuller (10.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg) both have been lost since the Trojans visited Cal on Dec. 29 . . . USC ranks last in the Pac-12 in most offensive categories, including scoring (53.8 ppg), field-goal percentage (39.7), 3-point percentage (28.4) and free throw percentage (60.4), in addition to rebounding margin (minus-6.9). They are 335th out of 338 teams nationally in scoring . . .

The Trojans have won just twice since Nov. 30. They have been held under 60 points in 17 of 24 games, under 50 in nine games . . . But they lead the conference in scoring defense (58.7 ppg) and turnover margin (plus-4.3) . . . Sophomore PG Maurice Jones is the team’s only dependable scorer, but he is shooting 10 for 52 from the 3-point line (19.2 percent) over the past 10 games. Jones shot 6 for 22 in losses at Washington State and Washington last weekend, including 1 for 9 from the 3-point arc . . . Sophomore forward Garrett Jackson scored 15 points in each of the Trojans’ games last weekend.

THE SERIES: Cal leads 130-120 all-time, although the Trojans have won six of the past 10 meetings. The Bears posted a 53-49 victory over USC at Berkeley on Dec. 29, holding on after building a 31-19 halftime lead. Jorge Gutierrez led Cal with 13 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Maurice Jones scored 17 for the Trojans . . . Cal is trying to complete its first season sweep of USC since 2005-06 . . . USC is 67-28 in six seasons at the Galen Center.

MISCELLANY: Senior Harper Kamp needs just 19 points to reach 1,000 for his career and and seven rebounds to get to 500 . . . Cal ranks 13th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.36), 17th in assists per game (16.3) and 18th in free throw percentage (75.6) . . . Sophomore Allen Crabbe has scored double digits in 40 of 55 career games, including 37 of the past 45. 

Cal (18-6, 8-3 Pac-12)

Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
SF Allen Crabbe 6-6 So. 15.9 6.1
PF Harper Kamp 6-8 Sr. 10.0 5.0
PF David Kravish 6-9 Fr. 5.8 5.0
SG Jorge Gutierrez 6-3 Sr. 14.1 5.3
PG Justin Cobbs 6-2 So. 12.7 4.5*
Key reserves
G Brandon Smith 5-11 Jr. 3.7 2.7*
G Emerson Murray 6-2 So. 1.9 0.8
C Robert Thurman 6-10 Jr. 3.6 1.8

*Assists

USC (6-18, 1-10 Pac-12)

Starters Ht Yr Pts Rebs
SF Garrett Jackson 6-6 So. 6.0 2.6
C James Blasczyk 7-1 Jr. 2.6 2.8
SG Greg Allen 6-3 Jr. 4.1 1.1
SG Byron Wesley 6-5 Fr. 7.8 4.8
PG Maurice Jones 5-7 So. 14.0 3.4*
Key reserves
G Alexis Moore 6-2 Fr. 5.0 2.0
G Eric Strangis 6-4 Sr. 0.8 0.5
G Daniel Munoz 5-10 Jr. 0.8 0.8

*Assists

Jeff Faraudo

  • http://capitolgoldbuyers.com BlakeStreetBear

    u$c is a sorry program in serious disrepair – 335th out of 338th nationally in scoring!? lol
    Dedmon should and probably will go pro. He WAS impressive.
    The Golden Bears better crush the toejams – its not even close talent-wise at this point.

    Its interesting that Cal, udumb and cu are all in the same boat re road games to finish the reg season. I like Cal’s chances…we only have to tie with udumb to be champs, we own the tiebreaker. A tie with cu is more complicated. Let’s run the table the not have to worry about it!

    Go Bears!

  • rollonubears

    A tie with CU should go to the bears. It’s been longer since we won a pac championship. They’ve only been in the league one year. That reasoning probably doesn’t fly, but oh well. Those guys will always have a hustle advantage because they train at altitude year-round. Beating them on the road will be next to impossible, especially when you add in our lack of depth. We should be happy with a split up there, and we’re going to have to hope they lose 3 of their last 7, I think.

  • CalBearister99

    Didn’t we win the regular season conference title two years ago? :)

  • rollonubears

    Yep.

  • SteveNTEXAS

    USC sucks more than its troll who will be in hiding for at least a few days.

  • ThisisCal

    I don’t understand why these games aren’t on TV. This is unacceptable.

  • Disappointed Bear

    What the heck? I thought this was the Great Pac-12 where we’d have some clout and more games televised… What a bunch of C%@P! Next thing you know we’ll be playing The Big Game in October! Oh, …

  • rollonubears

    Next year, everything will be on TV. It’s pretty pathetic, though. Every time I get excited to tune in, it’s not on. Then when I’m busy as hell, sure, it’s on Fox nationally and I can’t watch it live. Oh well. We need to win this one, and save some energy for FUCLA.

  • Dan

    All $C cares about is the cheating football program. What a lo$er approach.

  • Will

    Hey now, they tried cheating in basketball too…just didn’t work out as well

  • Uh Huh!

    Jeff:

    What does USC’s roster look like now, and who is scholarship vs. walk-on.
    Same question with Utah, since they’ve had so many transfers.
    I mean, where do they get these extra (no)names? (no disrespect intended)

  • Uh Huh!

    I was initially going to say, “let’s get Jorge 30 points tonight” so that he can get a major boost in the per game scoring average, which will likely be needed in order to get the Pac12 POY award.

    However, we have more pressing needs, and that’s simply winning as many games as possible, and that is probably accomplished by resting Jorge and others tonight so they can be fresh at UCLA on Saturday.

    Not to mention that individual awards probably don’t mean too much to either Jorge or Montgomery. Still, it would be a tremendous accomplishment for Jorge! It’s too bad we play the more difficult UCLA after USC, and @Colorado after Utah. There are points to be had on both of these Thursday nights!

  • Jeff Faraudo

    OK, here is the USC roster breakdown, just for you Uh Huh!

    Healthy scholarship players(6):
    Junior G Greg Allen
    Junior C James Blasczyk
    Sophomore F Garrett Jackson
    Sophomore G Maurice Jones
    Freshman G Alexis Moore
    Freshman G Byron Wesley

    Injured scholarship players (5):
    Sophomore F/C Dewayne Dedmon (knee)
    Junior F Aaron Fuller (shoulder)
    Junior PG Jio Fontan (knee)
    Sophomore F Evan Smith (shoulder)
    Sophomore F/C Curtis Washington (shoulder)

    Red-shirting scholarship transfers (2):
    Junior F Ari Stewart (Wake Forest)
    Senior F Eric Wise (UC Irvine)

    Walkons (4):
    Freshman G Danilo Dragovic
    Junior G Daniel Munoz
    Senior G Eric Strangis
    Sophomore G Tyler Sugiyama