Scouting USC

News, notes and quotes on No. 3 KU's matchup against USC Saturday at 11 a.m. in Allen Fieldhouse, while wondering if the crowd noise will shake the roof when freshman Josh Selby first enters the game and makes his KU debut after being suspended by the NCAA for the first nine contests.

The game will be televised on ESPN with Dave Pasch and Bob Knight calling the action. The Jayhawks (9-0) will be looking to bounce back after a lackluster 76-55 victory over Colorado State last Saturday at Sprint Center in Kansas City.


USC returns eight letterwinners and two starters from last season's team, which went 16-14 and 8-10 in the Pac-10. The Trojans (6-4) have wins this season over UC Irvine, Santa Clara, New Mexico State, Cal State Fullerton, Texas (73-56) and Northern Arizona (60-52), while losing to Rider, Bradley, Nebraska (60-58) and TCU.

The Trojans, who have alternated winning two and losing two games all season, are coming off wins over Texas on Dec. 5 and Northern Arizona last Saturday. Senior guard Donte Smith scored a career-high 22 points against NAU, including 14 straight in the second half. He also had a career-best five three-pointers.

Junior forward Nikola Vucevic leads the attack with averages of 16.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. He also paces USC with 43 free throws and is tied for team high with 13 blocks. Freshman guard Maurice Jones is next in scoring (12.2 ppg, team-best 4.2 apg and 1.7 spg), followed by freshman guard Bryce Jones (11.2 ppg), Smith (9.0 ppg, team-high 20 threes), senior forward Alex Stepheson (8.6 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 13 blocks), senior guard Marcus Simmons (6.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg) and freshman forward Garrett Jackson (4.6 ppg).
USC averages 68.9 points per game and allows 62.7. The Trojans shoot 44.9 percent from the field, 34.4 percent from three-point range, and 67.2 percent at the free-throw line. They're holding opponents to 41.6 percent shooting and 35.1 percent from beyond the arc, while outrebounding foes 36.8 to 30.9.

The Trojans have gone seven deep with six players averaging at least 26.3 minutes per game

Head coach Kevin O'Neill is 22-18 in his second season at USC and 193-198 in his 13th season overall.


USC will get an extra lift with 6-0 junior guard Jio Fontan, who will make his season debut Saturday after sitting out a year after transferring from Fordham. He made the A-10 All-Rookie team as a freshman in 2009 (15.3 ppg, 4.7 apg) and averaged 15.0 points in five games last season at Fordham.

Fontan is a former prep teammate of KU junior guard Tyshawn Taylor at Saint Anthony High School in Jersey City, N.J. Taylor calls Fontan his best friend.


KU coach Bill Self is quite concerned with USC's defense and its talented frontline.

"That may be the best defensive team we play all year," Self said. "Certainly we're not going to get any easy baskets against them. They'll be fired up to play."

And then there's the Trojans' frontcourt featuring Vucevic and Stepheson.

"I think they will play through their bigs," Self said. "Obviously, their bigs are good. ... Stepheson is a very good low post player so I think that will be a big concern with us. We are just a little bit thinner inside (without senior forward Mario Little) so we'll have to do a real good job playing defense on them now."


Kansas leads the overall series with USC 9-5, winning the last five matchups. The series dates back to 1935 with KU winning the first three meetings before USC won five of the next six games from 1958-78. KU most recently beat USC, 72-62, in Allen Fieldhouse on Dec. 4, 2006, and also won, 59-55, in Los Angeles on Dec. 2, 2007 during its national championship season.


Selby is obviously hyped to play his first game at Kansas on Saturday.

"It means a lot to me because I never thought this situation would be over," he said. "It's finally over; I get to go out there and play along with my teammates, which we have all been waiting for. We are all looking forward to this game. It means a lot to us (the team), the Kansas fans and the coaching staff."

Self does not plan on starting Selby Saturday.

"I doubt he starts," Self said Thursday. "I guess you could always start somebody depending on injuries with practice the next couple of days. But the five guys that have been starting, they've done a decent job. They've performed at a pretty high level and I haven't seen anything yet to tell me that Josh deserves to be a starter over any one of those guys.

"Regardless of talent, regardless of expectations and hype and all of that stuff, the bottom line is that you've still got to produce on the court and you've still got to be one of five and understand how to make our team better. I don't care about individuals. I care about the team a lot more than individuals. So I do believe that he will do that."

Junior forward Marcus Morris is healing after suffering a sprained ankle last Saturday against Colorado State.

"I'm feeling about 85 to 90 percent," Morris said Thursday. "It's as bad of an injury as I've had in my career. I've been in treatment three times a day, but I think it's getting better. I should be ready by Saturday."


KU is moving on following Little's arrest early Thursday morning on misdemeanor charges of battery, criminal damage and criminal trespass. Self has suspended him indefinitely. He said Thursday that Little remains on the team but will not practice in the immediate future.

Will he play again this year?

"I think it depends on what he did," Self replied. "There may be more to it than what we actually know and what transpired, so we'll wait and see how the legal system also plays out in this."

Self was obviously upset at Little's actions.

"He's a good young man and it obviously got away from him and I'm very disappointed because it's something that we stress quite hard and frequently here," Self said. "He put himself in a bad position and didn't exercise very good judgment. But that didn't take away from the fact that he is still on our team. And he will be on our team until unless there is information that comes forward that tells us he should not be otherwise. But he will be disciplined in a pretty severe way."

The Jayhawks are preparing to move on.

"There are always a lot of distractions throughout the year, but you just have to take them, learn from them and move on," senior guard Brady Morningstar said. "We need to come together as a team a little bit closer and just know that we have to play well and focus on things on the court." Top Stories