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Now, USC's Role Is That of Spoiler Against Teams Such as Cal Tonight

February 24, 1986|MAL FLORENCE | Times Staff Writer

Now that USC has snapped a seven-game conference losing streak by beating cross-town rival UCLA, the Trojans can have some fun the rest of the season.

With a 4-10 Pacific 10 record and 10-14 overall, USC is obviously not going to be invited to participate in any post-season tournament.

But the Trojans can spoil the aspirations of other teams, starting with California tonight at the Sports Arena.

The Bears, 7-6 in the Pac-10 and 15-8 overall, still have an outside chance of playing in the NCAA tournament or the NIT. But they can't afford to lose many more games.

USC rediscovered its inside game in beating UCLA, 79-64, Saturday afternoon at the Sports Arena. Derrick Dowell, Hanks Gathers and Rod Keller were particularly effective inside by scoring, or rebounding.

Now the Trojans will be required to improve on their inside defense against Cal, the weakest part of USC's game, according to Coach Stan Morrison.

Leonard Taylor, California's 6-8 forward, is only a sophomore but he has already made a career out of exploiting USC.

Last year, he got a season-high 27 points against the Trojans. Last month in Berkeley, he burned USC inside with a career-high 28 points as Cal won, 62-61. He's averaging 21.7 points and 10 rebounds against USC.

So it's obvious that USC's No. 1 priority is to try to contain Taylor, who has two hyper-extended fingers on his shooting hand.

Trojan Notes

Tonight's game will start at 8 and will be broadcast by KNX radio. . . . The Trojans came close to beating the Bears in their last meeting. USC guard Bo Kimble missed on a 15-foot shot in the closing seconds as USC rallied from a nine-point deficit in the final eight minutes. . . . Cal is 11-1 at home but only 3-7 on the road, including a 1-5 record in league games. . . . Cal hasn't beaten USC in Los Angeles since the 1976-77 season. . . . USC will play Stanford Saturday afternoon in Palo Alto and then closes out its season the following week with road games at Oregon and Oregon State.

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