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Nikola Vucevic

SPORTS
February 10, 2011 | By Baxter Holmes
Kevin O'Neill boiled the eight games his team had left into a mini-season. Then USC's coach gathered his players during their first practice after last week's loss to UCLA and spread the word. Win half, plus maybe an extra win or two to be on the safe side, and they'd have enough capital to earn an NIT invitation. But, if not, just stitch some wins together to have steam heading into the Pacific 10 Conference tournament at Staples Center. The Trojans' mini-season opened with Oregon State on Thursday at the Galen Center, and USC took care of business with a 67-56 victory in front of 3,853.
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SPORTS
November 27, 2010 | By Baxter Holmes
For the first 20 minutes of its nonconference basketball game against Nebraska on Saturday, USC played nearly fundamentally perfect. The next 20 minutes? Not so much. After building a 20-point lead, the Trojans squandered all of it and more in a 60-58 loss. Nebraska hadn't come back to win from as big of a deficit since its 87-77 overtime win against Kansas State in 1997. It was finalized when USC freshman guard Maurice Jones missed a three-point shot at the buzzer.
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
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 11, 2011 | By Baxter Holmes
USC has played 76 men's basketball home games at the Galen Center since it opened in 2006, and only four have been sellouts at the 10,258-seat arena. But Sunday's game was the first home sellout that USC won, as the Trojans (10-6, 2-1 in Pacific 10 Conference play) beat crosstown rival UCLA, 63-52. USC players and coaches said the crowd keyed the win, and even UCLA freshman center Joshua Smith was impressed. "The Galen Center, they have it pretty sweet," Smith said Tuesday.
SPORTS
January 5, 2011 | By Baxter Holmes
Guard Bryce Jones and forward Garrett Jackson are neither gone nor forgotten freshmen at USC, even though both have all but disappeared from the lineup after impressive starts. Jones started USC's first 10 games and averaged 11.2 points in 28.1 minutes. But he has come off the bench in the last five games, averaging only 3.2 points in 12.2 minutes. Jackson hardly played in USC's first three games. But in the next five, he averaged 8.4 points in 16.6 minutes. Since, he has scored a total of four points and averaged 6.3 minutes.
SPORTS
February 12, 2011 | By Baxter Holmes
Every Friday, your average 9-to-5 worker is worn down and ready to punch out, thankful for a Saturday to kick back and chill. USC knows the feeling ? except for that last part. Leading up to Saturdays, the Trojans too seem tuckered out as their seven-man roster looks dead-legged, usually from playing a game two days prior. Which partly explains why more than half of USC's losses this season (seven) have come on Saturdays, with the Trojans' only wins coming in its season opener and after a six-day break between games.
SPORTS
October 25, 2010 | By Baxter Holmes
Marcus Simmons is a stopper on defense, but he wants to be more than that. So, the summer before last season, he didn't leave the gym each day until he made 1,000 shots. His dedication was commendable. However, the extra work didn't pay dividends. Simmons averaged just three points a game and USC Coach Kevin O'Neill considered him a liability when opposing defenses played zone, closing down the key and opening up the perimeter. "I probably hurt his confidence last year, when you think about it," O'Neill said.
SPORTS
December 23, 2010 | By Baxter Holmes
From the mid-size town of Bethlehem (Pa.), Lehigh entered the Galen Center on Thursday, offering USC a potential letdown threat the night before the night before Christmas. But instead of letting down two days after a narrow upset at Tennessee, the Trojans issued a start-to-finish beatdown, the 76-49 romp handing Coach Kevin O'Neill an early present and USC its fourth win in five games. "We've come a long way from when we were at TCU," O'Neill said. "We're really making some strides.
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.
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