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Nikola Vucevic

SPORTS
December 11, 2010 | By Baxter Holmes
The Trojans sulked inside their huddle, their double-digit lead whittled away to almost nothing. Their opponent had momentum and energy, needing only a good second-half push to knock a teetering team over. Then, a USC captain spoke up. "It's time to win," senior guard Donte Smith told his teammates. Out of that huddle, Smith did it himself, scoring 14 consecutive points during a game-deciding 14-3 run that gave USC a 60-52 win against Northern Arizona at the Galen Center on Saturday.
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SPORTS
February 4, 2010 | By Baxter Holmes
The halfway point of USC's postseason-denied conference basketball season is here -- and some Trojans were happy to apply something of a midterm grade to the team, which is 12-9 overall and 4-5 in Pacific 10 Conference play. Senior guard Dwight Lewis wasn't lenient: C-minus. "I don't think we've put too many whole games together," he said. Fellow senior Mike Gerrity was a tad more generous: B-minus. "I think we've had some good spurts along the way," he said. Coach Kevin O'Neill gave his team an "A" for effort, the only category he cares about.
SPORTS
January 10, 2011 | By Baxter Holmes
On Sunday, USC's Kevin O'Neill earned something of a hat trick. His Trojans beat crosstown rival UCLA, 63-52, for the third straight time since he was hired as USC's men's basketball coach in 2009. While O'Neill won't downplay his recent success against UCLA and Bruins Coach Ben Howland, he won't say he has Howland's number, either. "No, I don't think that at all," O'Neill said Monday. "I would never be crazy enough to think that. " O'Neill's head-to-head record against Howland is 3-2 overall, the losses coming when he was Arizona's interim head coach in the 2007-08 season.
SPORTS
January 21, 2010 | By Baxter Holmes
Washington State's Klay Thompson is go for launch, any time, anywhere. Give him the ball, and expect a shot, no matter the score, the time, the situation or where he's at on the court. "He's got a complete green light," USC Coach Kevin O'Neill said. Thompson shoots 16.3 times per game, tops in the Pacific 10 Conference, but 7.4 of those go in, making him the league's top scorer (22.9). His fire-away game plan seems to be working for the Cougars (13-5 overall, 3-3 in conference play)
SPORTS
January 22, 2011 | By Baxter Holmes
The Trojans move onward and upward, then backward and downward. It's their trend this season. They've had five two-game winning streaks, but none longer. Three of those streaks were followed by two-game losing streaks. The problem may well be that USC (11-8, 3-3 in the Pacific 10 Conference) simply doesn't know how to handle success. The numbers indicate so, and USC Coach Kevin O'Neill agrees. "Most teams like us, who in my mind have a low margin for error, don't handle success very well," he said of the Trojans, who face California (9-9, 2-4)
SPORTS
December 30, 2010 | By Baxter Holmes
USC's lock-down defense shut down Washington's high-powered offense Wednesday. It held the Huskies to 35.5 points below their season average by the start of overtime ? and didn't give up a fastbreak point. It forced Washington into 17 turnovers ? after the Huskies committed a total of nine in their two previous games ? and kept star guard Isaiah Thomas (10 points, six turnovers) in check. But that all went for naught in an 73-67 loss, forcing USC (8-6, 0-1 in conference play)
SPORTS
November 15, 2010 | By Baxter Holmes
The day had brought the difficult news to USC that forward Alex Stepheson, one of the Trojans' biggest players by size and value, had a fractured left hand. But by night's end, the Trojans' smallest player, 5-foot-7 freshman guard Maurice Jones, was able to deliver some good news, dazzling the Galen Center with a game-high 29 points in USC's 86-73 win against Santa Clara. Jones shot 10 for 20, many on driving layups, some from impossible angles. He also had five assists, a few on no-look passes that made the crowd do double-takes at instant replays shown on the video board.
SPORTS
January 14, 2011 | By Baxter Holmes
Few basketball coaches use a 1-3-1 zone defense. Too risky. It can win its employer games and lose them just as easily. It's seductive, but it's unfaithful. And that's why it's rare. But Oregon State Coach Craig Robinson swears by the high-risk, high-reward half-court trapping scheme that can cause turnovers and produce fastbreak baskets. So far this season, his Beavers (7-9, 2-3 in Pacific 10 Conference play) have produced the statistics to indicate it works ? they lead the nation in steals (11.1)
SPORTS
October 13, 2011 | By Baxter Holmes
Their captain was out for the season before it ever began. Now, without senior guard Jio Fontan, USC is a "rudderless ship," according to Coach Kevin O'Neill. So aimlessly the Trojans will head into the basketball season, which begins Nov. 11 against Cal State Northridge, short on experience and talent, with only a dream of a return visit to the NCAA tournament. "We're going to have an interesting year, to say the least," O'Neill said. Times staff writer Baxter Holmes looks at USC's five most pressing issues as it begins practice Friday: Looking for a leader After losing three key seniors, and junior forward Nikola Vucevic to the NBA, the Trojans had two starters returning this season before Fontan, their floor leader and leading returning scorer (10.5 points)
SPORTS
December 18, 2011 | By Baxter Holmes
For a four-game stretch from Nov. 22 through Nov. 30, USC shot the lights out, making more than half its attempts each game. But for the last three games, all losses in which USC has shot 36% or lower, the Trojans are shooting as if those lights are still out. What happened before that's not happening now? "We were finishing better in the paint," USC Coach Kevin O'Neill said Sunday, a day before his Trojans (4-7) were to play host to Texas Christian (7-3) at the Galen Center.
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