The USC Trojans look to capture third place in the 2011 Las Vegas Invitational college basketball tournament on Saturday night against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Orleans Arena. It is a rare meeting of the two schools that call themselves USC, with the Gamecocks holding a 2-1 series edge all-time.
Guard Maurice Jones has played in 246 of a possible 250 minutes for USC this season, and is second on the team averaging 14.0 points per game, while leading the Trojans with 3.0 assists and 1.8 steals per contest. However, Jones has struggled shooting so far this season, shooting just 32.9%, including 25.0% on three-pointers (eight for 32) and 38.3% on two-pointers (18 for 47). USC is shooting just 23.8% as a team (19 for 80) from beyond the arc.
The Trojans have been outrebounded in their last five games, a span which includes four losses. South Carolina outrebounded the No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels on Friday night though they lost 87-62 in the tournament semifinals. USC lost to UNLV 66-55, with the Runnin' Rebels ending the game on a 22-9 run.
The Gamecocks are led in scoring by senior forward Malik Cooke (11.8 points per game) and guards Eric Smith (9.4 ppg) and Damien Leonard (9.2 ppg).
USC is in a long stretch of games that won't see them back at Galen Center until December 10. After Saturday's game, the Trojans travel to play UC Riverside and Minnesota before returning home to face New Mexico.
Saturday's 4:30 p.m. PST game will be broadcast online at ESPN3.com. For more USC basketball news and notes, be sure to read Conquest Chronicles.