The USC Trojans are coming off a disappointing loss against the Akron Zips, searching for their first win away from the Galen Center this season here on Friday against the winless Drexel Dragons.
Led by head coach Bruiser Flint, the Dragons enter this contest losers of all three games that were much closer than maybe even the scoreboard could indicate. In the midst of his 14th season running the program (228-176 all-time record), Flint leads a Dragons squad that must replace three starters from a 16-14 output from last season.
The Drexel Dragons have already faced a Pac-12 foe this season, dropping a 65-48 contest up in Boulder, Colorado. USC has this and on more game remaining in the Charleston Classic before heading back to the Galen Center for a rivalry tilt against the Titans of Cal State Fullerton out of the Big West Conference.
What to Watch:
Turnovers - The Trojans' biggest heal is keeping the ball in their hands, nearly equaling their total in turnovers (56) and field goals (61) made through the first three games of the season. While USC is facing a turnover heavy club that averages 13 mistakes per game, the Trojans are still a major work in progress averaging over 19 turnovers per game.
Replacing Stars -The Drexel Dragons graduated more than 4,000 career points at the end of last season. Led by the veteran leadership of Chris Fouch and Frantz Massenat, the fifth and sixth leading scorers in school history will be severely missed in the Dragons starting lineup. In addition, Dartaye Ruffin, the seventh leading rebounder in school history also completed his eligibility after last season.
We know that the Trojans are working to replace nearly 45 points per game between Pe'Shon Howard, Omar Oraby, J.T. Terrell and Byron Wesley. USC has relied upon a steady dosage of freshman Jordan McLaughlin, who has led the team in scoring (14 PPG) and assists (15) during the first three games.
The Damion Lee Factor - Lee is back on the court for Drexel after missing all but five games a year ago. The junior was selected a Preseason All-CAA pick a year ago after an outstanding first two seasons. However, Lee's season ended with a knee injury against Arizona. The Baltimore native is back and leading the Dragons this year with 17.5 points per game.
Starting Fast - Following a less than ideal start to the Charleston Classic, USC is looking for a bounce-back win against a beatable Drexel squad. The Dragons battled Miami close for 20 minutes, only trailing by 8 at the break, but the second-half adjustments left them in the consolation bracket. The Trojans came out flat from the very start against Akron, digging themselves into a whole far too large to overcome by a young and mistake-prone club. Basically USC must push the pace early and create easy shots from the perimeter to surpass a disappointing 46-point effort on Thursday.
Last Matchup: USC won 82-53 back on December, 23 1980.
In the second year under legendary coach Stan Morrison, a frequent guest of USC Sports Media classes on campus, the Trojans beat the Drexel Dragons in convincing fashion. The Trojans were led by eventual NBA Draft picks Purvis Miller (60th pick, Indiana) and Barry Brooks (Golden State Warriors) for brief periods of time.
The 1980-81 Trojans featured four players that averaged double figures. Dwight Anderson led the way, but he wasn't available for the Drexel game. He joined the team midway through the season after transferring from Kentucy. Before Anderson joined, the leading scorer was Purvis Miller, but he was dismissed for a variety of infractions including cow tipping, brandishing a gun and a not denying a strawberry daiquiri was his.
Both teams finished the season 14-13 in 1980-81. Even though Len Hatzenbeller averaged 21.8 points that season for Drexel, USC whooped up on the Dragons. --Via Shotgun Spratling
Where to Watch:
Game Time, TV channel: 9:00 a.m. PST, ESPN3 (Roy Philpott, Craig Robinson)
Radio: USC: ESPN 690 AM (Chris Fisher); Drexel Online Stream: Listen Live
Follow Along: Gametracker; USC Twitter - @USC_Hoops; Drexel Dragons - @DrexelDragons
Odds & More:
Odds and Wagers: Latest Odds: USC -2 1/2 favorite, Over/Under: 121 points
Projected Starting Lineups:
G - Jordan McLaughlin (6-1 freshman)
G - Katin Reinhardt (6-6 sophomore)
G - Julian Jacobs (6-5 sophomore)
F - Malik Martin (6-11 freshman)
F - Nikola Jovanovic (6-11 sophomore)
G - Tavon Allen (6-7 junior)
G - Rashann London (6-2 freshman)
G - Damion Lee (6-6 junior)
F - Mohamed Bah (6-9 sophomore)
F - Rodney Williams (6-7 sophomore)
Gotta move on— Slim Shady (@PTP_Leak) November 21, 2014
Tough one. But we back at it again. One reason why I love hoops. pic.twitter.com/2f8uMfRc6j— Darion Clark (@darionclark0) November 20, 2014