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USC REPORT

All Hands on Deck for the UCLA Game

January 06, 2003|Paul Gutierrez | Times Staff Writer

Blowing a 21-point lead en route to a 76-72 defeat at Washington may have taken a little of the luster off Wednesday night's rivalry game at UCLA -- where both teams would have been 2-0 in Pacific 10 Conference play -- but the Trojans will be at full strength against the Bruins.

Senior point guard Robert Hutchinson, whose on-court leadership was missed as USC's lead dwindled against the Huskies, will be available, barring any setbacks.

He has missed three games this season because of a sprained right ankle and last played on Dec. 21.

The Trojans will also get more physical down low as Gregg Guenther, a 6-foot-8, 245-pound banger, is expected to rejoin the Trojans today after playing as a reserve tight end for USC's Orange Bowl champion football team.

Coach Henry Bibby insists that he's not going to lose any sleep over the loss to the Huskies, especially not after the Trojans beat Washington State on Thursday in both teams' Pac-10 opener.

"The big thing is we split on the road," he said. "If you can get the sweep, that's good but your main concern is to get the split. So I'm not too down with this loss."

Still, it was the first time since 1999 that the Trojans did not come home from the Pacific Northwest with a sweep of the Cougars and Huskies.

Bibby laid most of the blame for the loss on his team's lack of defense and a momentum-swinging technical foul.

Another problem was the Trojans' lack of an outside game.

After shooting a season-high 62.5% (10 of 16) from three-point territory in its 97-90 win at Washington State, USC made a season-low 13.3% (two of 15) of its three-pointers against Washington.

Junior guard Desmon Farmer followed up his career-best 35-point performance against Washington State, in which he made seven three-pointers, by making only five of 15 shots, scoring 16 points.

*

Bibby and assistant Kurtis Townsend had planned on catching the end of Trojan twin recruits Lodrick and Rodrick Stewart's Rainier Beach High game Saturday night in Seattle but, because of the length of USC's game, they missed it.

Lodrick had a game-high 27 points while Rodrick scored 14 points for the Vikings, the No. 1-ranked team in the nation by USA Today, in their 71-60 win over O'Dea High.

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