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USC REPORT

Washington State shows how to neutralize Gibson

December 31, 2006|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

Washington State might have provided Pacific 10 Conference teams with a how-to guide on denying USC freshman forward Taj Gibson the ball in crucial situations.

The Cougars continually kept the Trojans from finding their favorite big man for inside looks during the last few possessions of Washington State's 58-55 victory Saturday at the Galen Center.

After Gibson scored three consecutive points to cut the USC deficit to 53-52, the Trojans set up a play to get him the ball after calling a timeout with 58.5 seconds to go.

"We were going to establish inside and try to get fouled, but they couldn't get the ball to me," said Gibson, who finished with 11 points and eight rebounds. "They just fronted me and tried to send backside help."

USC had to settle for two long jump shots by Gabe Pruitt on two late possessions, one of which gave the Trojans a 55-54 lead before the Cougars rallied.

While Gibson said he was "still a little wobbly" from the after effects of food poisoning from earlier in the week, freshman guard Daniel Hackett seemed even worse off. He played only seven minutes and missed his only shot.

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Nick Young has had three consecutive big second halves after relatively quiet first halves. He has scored 47 points after halftime during that stretch and only 18 in the first half.

"It seemed like I observe the first [half] and see how the defense is," said Young, who had 10 of his 14 points after halftime Saturday. "The second half, I just come out aggressive and ready."

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The game was played with the giant curtains at the north end of the Galen Center drawn, obstructing the view of the downtown L.A. skyline, after television officials complained of a daytime glare off the giant windows. "I had seen all black and I didn't know why," Young said. "I thought it was dark outside."

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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