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USC BASKETBALL REPORT

Hackett gets going halfway there

December 10, 2006|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

Daniel's Hackett's first half pretty much symbolized the way things were going for USC in its Wooden Classic game at the Honda Center.

The freshman guard missed both of his shots, committed three fouls and made two turnovers for the Trojans, who were on the verge of being clobbered by George Washington after going scoreless for one stretch of 9 minutes 59 seconds.

Then there was Hackett's inspired play in the second half, which mirrored his teammates' efforts as they staged a furious rally for a 74-65 victory. Hackett scored all 18 of his points in the final 20 minutes, making 11 of 11 free throws to help the Trojans rally from a 20-point deficit.

"It was about coming in with some energy and taking it a play at a time," said Hackett, who took a more aggressive approach after halftime. "I drove the ball a lot and got fouled."

Hackett also had three second-half assists and one eye-popping save in which he threw the ball between his legs to a teammate while running out of bounds. Hackett then came down and made a three-point basket.

"He did great things out there, not just scoring but bringing the ball up and having poise and not turning it over and just running the team like we know he can run it," senior guard Lodrick Stewart said. "He played like a veteran."

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Nick Young made only three of 13 shots for a second consecutive game, but Coach Tim Floyd said he was more concerned with the junior swingman's inability to take care of the ball than his shooting. Young finished with five turnovers, three in the first half.

"I'll go back and watch that film because I counted about 12 on his part, it seemed like," Floyd said. "He's just got to handle the ball strongly and he can't allow a negative play to affect him."

Floyd said Young, who's averaging 15 points, no longer needed to be the focal point of the Trojans' offense because they possessed an inside scorer in freshman forward Taj Gibson and other options in Stewart and Hackett.

"He doesn't have to shoot it every time down the floor," Floyd said of Young. "I'm not interested in him having to score 27 points a game....I think he's done fine."

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Should he maintain his current scoring pace of 16.5 points per game, Stewart would finish with at least 1,484 points, tying him with John Rudometkin for sixth place on the school's all-time scoring list. If USC advanced deep into the Pacific 10 Conference tournament or the NCAA tournament, Stewart could conceivably overtake Wayne Carlander (1,524) and move into fifth place. Harold Miner (2,048) is the school's all-time leading scorer.

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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