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USC REPORT

Volume hasn't pumped up home record

January 09, 2008|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

Home has become more of a haven for USC in its second season playing in the Galen Center, at least in terms of decibels.

The Trojans averaged 6,699 fans for six nonconference home games, an 82.7% increase over the 3,667 they averaged for nine nonconference home games last season. USC drew 10,017 for its Dec. 2 game against Kansas, the second-biggest crowd in the brief history of the 10,258-seat arena.

But one season after the Trojans went 15-3 at home, there have already been several rocky moments on Jim Sterkel Court, where they are 4-2 in games that count. USC lost its opener against Mercer and then lost an exhibition game against Fresno Pacific in which only the Trojans reserves played.

The Trojans did get a boost from large crowds against Oklahoma (a 66-55 victory) and Kansas (a 59-55 loss) and hope to receive more of the same Thursday night in their Pacific 10 Conference home opener against No. 4 Washington State.

"We need that big support because that's what we saw up in the Bay [Area, against California and Stanford] -- a big crowd and big support," sophomore guard Daniel Hackett said. "So I think our fans are going to come out and be excited."

One day after his team held Stanford to 52 points and 27% shooting, USC Coach Tim Floyd was being credited for another suffocating defensive effort -- by West Virginia.

Mountaineers Coach Bob Huggins publicly thanked Floyd for the triangle-and-two defense West Virginia implemented Sunday during a 79-64 victory over then-No. 10 Marquette.

Huggins watched the Trojans use the defense against Memphis earlier this season and called Floyd to get his take on the scheme, in which three players are deployed in a zone around the lane and two others play man-to-man.

"I didn't really know anything about the triangle-and-two, but Tim Floyd really helped us out a bunch," Huggins told reporters.

Said Floyd: "It was nice of him to say that. . . . He's always trying to find some edge, just like we do. I've called him many times too on other things."

Hackett said there is a tangible difference in Washington State (13-0 overall, 1-0 Pac-10) that makes the Cougars even more dangerous than last season, when they finished second in the conference.

"They have that swagger that, 'We know what we're doing and we're going to execute it,' " Hackett said. "We were just watching clips of the game they played at Washington and man, they're disciplined. It looks like a European pro team out there."

Freshman guard Angelo Johnson returned to practice a day after experiencing back spasms.

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ben.bolch@latimes.com

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