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Nikola Vucevic

SPORTS
January 20, 2011 | By Baxter Holmes
One day after returning from an embarrassing sweep in Oregon, where USC failed to play the defense it knows it must to win, its talented freshman shooting guard announced he was leaving the program. The Trojans held a team meeting that day, a Monday, when Bryce Jones said his playing time wasn't enough. And the players moved on. "He was a good guy, he left, that's what he wanted to do," junior forward Nikola Vucevic said. "We have to keep playing. " And get back to playing defense, or, as USC Coach Kevin O'Neill often says, "The only way we can win. " After a few days of intense practice, the Trojans did what O'Neill called "the best job we've done of following a game plan in a long time," and beat Stanford, 65-42, Thursday night at the Galen Center.
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SPORTS
January 15, 2011 | By Baxter Holmes
It rained when USC stepped off its plane in Portland on Wednesday night. It poured almost straight through its in-state stay that ends Sunday morning. It drizzled when the Trojans exited Oregon's Matthew Knight Arena with a loss Thursday night after a failed comeback. It fell in gobs Saturday when they entered Gill Coliseum, which they'd also leave with a loss, 80-76 to Oregon State, again following a failed USC comeback. There's just something about Oregon. It keeps raining on the Trojans' Pacific 10 Conference title hopes.
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
January 13, 2011 | By Baxter Holmes
Reporting from Eugene, Ore. Money can buy many things ? some even say happiness, if you know where to shop. But Oregon rarely shops. Rockefeller-rich alum and Nike co-founder Phil Knight often just fits the Ducks' bills, no expense spared. His latest donation debuted Thursday night, the pristine Matthew Knight Arena ? named in honor of his late son ? for which he helped pay half of its $200-million cost. And the Ducks delivered "Uncle Phil" and "Matt Court" a 68-62 win against USC, ending a six-game skid to give Oregon, 8-9 overall, its first win in five Pacific 10 Conference games.
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 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 9, 2011 | By Ben Bolch
In the final seconds, USC forward Nikola Vucevic waved his arms in triumph near midcourt before stepping over to high-five Alex Stepheson. Several feet away, UCLA's Reeves Nelson stood with his hands on his hips. Bruins center Joshua Smith could only sit and stare from the bench. When it came to the battle of the big men Sunday night at the Galen Center, it was advantage, Trojans. A super-sized one. Vucevic scored 20 points on nine-for-16 shooting, and Stepheson logged a double-double with 13 points and 16 rebounds during USC's 63-52 victory over the Bruins.
SPORTS
January 8, 2011 | By Baxter Holmes
Most basketball coaches pray for one, just one, grade-A big man . But if a coach has two, as UCLA's Ben Howland has in Joshua Smith and Reeves Nelson and USC's Kevin O'Neill has in Alex Stepheson and Nikola Vucevic, then consider that coach lucky because good big men are hard to find, harder to keep and even harder to stop. Just ask Washington State Coach Ken Bone, whose Cougars recently visited Los Angeles and were feasted on by the L.A. schools' down-low duos. The foursome scored 55 points, grabbed 38 rebounds and threw Bone two losses, which left him gushing, "They're very efficient, very good.
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
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)
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