Southern California looks to bounce back from its worst loss of the season and re-discover its shooting stroke when it visits Pac-10 rival California on Saturday.
The 25th-ranked Trojans (15-6, 5-3) are in danger of dropping out of the Top 25 after losing 65-50 at Stanford on Thursday. Southern California moved into the rankings Monday for the first time since finishing the 2001-02 season ranked 18th.
USC had 19 of its shots blocked Thursday and posted season lows in points and shooting percentage (28.4).
“Their big guys influenced the game by influencing shots,” Trojans coach Tim Floyd said. “We didn’t shoot for a good percentage because of the way we were defended.”
The Trojans struggled shooting for the second consecutive game. They went 15-for-40 (37.5 percent) from the field in a 58-49 win over Arizona State last Saturday—their first game below 40 percent since a season-opening loss to South Carolina on Nov. 16.
USC ranks fourth in the Pac-10 in field-goal percentage at 47.3.
Trojans leading scorer Nick Young managed only 13 points on 5-for-19 shooting against Stanford—four below his season average. Young was named Pac-10 player of the week for totaling 48 points in last week’s wins over Arizona and Arizona State.
USC lost all three meetings against California (12-8, 4-4) last season, including a 71-60 loss at Berkeley on March 4 in which they shot 29.5 percent (18-for-61). It has won just once in its last five visits to Haas Pavilion.
One reason for Cal’s success against USC last season was Ayinde Ubaka. After Ubaka struggled to a nine-point effort in a 62-58 road victory over the Trojans on Dec. 29, 2005, he averaged 16.5 points on 10-of-18 shooting in the last two meetings.
The senior guard has been slowed by an intestinal virus recently and was held scoreless for the first time since Feb. 12, 2005 when he missed all eight shots in a 62-46 loss to No. 3 UCLA on Thursday.
“I think his tank was a little bit on empty today coming in,” California coach Ben Braun said. “You could see his timing wasn’t there and he struggled.
“He’s our leader. He’ll bounce back. UCLA did a good job deciding they were going to keep the ball out of his hands.”
Ubaka averaged 17.4 points over his previous seven games before the loss to UCLA.
The Golden Bears, who are trying to avoid losing three straight for the first time this season, are 0-5 against ranked teams this season.