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Get To Know A Marquette Basketball Opponent: Southern Cal

This will be the second ever meeting between the two teams.

Stanford v USC Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Name: University of Southern California

And Just So We’re Clear: Yes, if you just say USC, everyone except particularly weird South Carolina fans knows what you’re talking about.

Location: Southern California

Ha Ha Ha Ha, Smartass. Yes. Glad you enjoyed it. Southern Cal is in Los Angeles, California.

Founded: 1880

What? Yep, one year before Marquette, those sneaky west coast private school jerks.

Enrollment: 45,687, but check this out: only 15,717 undergraduates. That tilt has become specifically pronounced in the last 10 years or so, as 2007 was the first year where graduate students outnumbered undergraduates.

Fun Fact: USC was founded with an affiliation with the Methodist Church, although their official ties came to an end in 1952. Given the location and the timing, that technically makes USC the real Southern Methodist University, not the school in Dallas. With that said, SMU is geographically further south than USC, so I guess that they come by their name honestly.

And You Thought Marquette’s Visitation Policy Was Strict: When USC first opened their doors in 1880, students were not allowed to leave town without the university president signing off on their departure. Imagine the line at Dr. Lovell’s office door if Marquette students needed permission to go to Chicago.

Nickname: Trojans

Why “Trojans?” In 1912, referring to their tenacity in a track meet against Stanford, Los Angeles Times writer Owen Bird compared the fighting spirit of USC’s athletes to the spirit of the soldiers of ancient Troy. I’m always entertained when the mascot/nickname story is something to the effect of “the newspaper said a thing a couple of times, so we trademarked it to make money off of it.”

Notable Alumni: There’s so many notable USC alumni that “Architecture” is an actual subcategory on the ol’ Wikipedia page. Anywho, here’s the list of names that jump out at you: Astronaut Neil Armstrong (take that, Purdue); film score composer Jerry Goldsmith; professional wrestler Eve Torres; Dan Bane, the chairman & CEO of Trader Joe’s; David Bohnett, founder of Geocities; 135 Olympic gold medalists; Dr. Jerry Buss, long time owner of the Los Angeles Lakers; Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines; Herb Alpert, co-founder of A&M Records; Flea, the bassist for Red Hot Chili Peppers; a metric ton of actors including LeVar Burton, Anthony Edwards, Will Ferrell, America Ferrara, Topher Grace, Regina King, Ted McGinley, Timothy Olyphant, Tom Selleck, and Forest Whitaker; a whole mess of professional athletes in various sports; a big ol’ list of Hollywood types of one stripe or another including Judd Apatow, Andres Cantor, John Carpenter, David S. Goyer, Brian Grazer, Conrad Hall, Rian Johnson, Doug Liman, George Lucas, Shonda Rhimes, and Gary Rydstrom; Warren Christopher, former US Secretary of State; General Norman Schwarzkopf; Gary Anderson, creator of the recycling symbol; Ethel Percy Andrus, founder of AARP, and finally, OJ Simpson.

Last Season: Finished 16-17 after going 8-10 in Pac-12 play and bowing out for the year after two conference tournament games.

Final 2018-19 Ranking: #82

This Season: 6-1 after beating Fairfield on Thursday by a final score of 54-47. Going by KenPom, USC’s best win of the year so far is on the road against #97 Nevada.

Current 2019-20 KenPom Ranking: #65

Stat Leaders

Points: Onyeka Okongwu, 17.4 ppg
Rebounds: Onyeka Okongwu & Nick Rakocevic, 9.0 rpg
Assists: Ethan Anderson, 5.4 apg

Shooters? In generality, no. The Trojan offense currently ranks #281 in the country in terms of the volume of three-pointers in their shot selection according to KenPom. Firing away from downtown isn’t their #1 option. This makes sense, as they’re only shooting 32.8% as a team from behind the arc.

With that said, Elijah Weaver (6’6”, 210 lb.) is hitting 45% of his attempts this season, although he tries a little fewer than three per game. Little used freshman Max Agbonkpolo (6’8”, 190 lb.) is 4-for-8 on the year, so it’s probably a good plan to be aware of his presence on the court. Jonah Matthews (6’3”, 205 lb.) is USC’s most likely sniper with 44 attempts on the season, which is about six per game. He’s only hitting 34% on the year, and had to hit 3-of-5 against Fairfield yesterday to get that high.

Bigs? Ohhhhhhhh yeah. This may specifically be the game on the schedule why head coach Steve Wojciechowski talked so much in the summer about a two big lineup. Freshman Onyeka Okongwu (6’9”, 245 lb.) and senior Nick Rakocevic (6’11”, 225 lb.) both start for USC, and they’re both big dudes that don’t really even look at the outside all that much. As you can see above, they’re tied for the team lead in rebounds, and Rakocevic is up over 13 points per game in terms of scoring. Essentially, both men are a double-double waiting to happen.

In addition to your regular counting stats type of situation, both Okongwu and Rakocevic rank in KenPom’s top 300 in the following very important big man categories: Offensive rebounding rate, defensive rebounding rate, block rate, and fouls drawn per 40 minutes. Okongwu is incredibly sure of himself with the ball, particularly for a freshman, as he’s #219 in the country in turnover rate, while Rakocevic is #71 in steal rate. If you find yourself panicking about Theo John, Ed Morrow, and Jayce Johnson between the fouls drawn rates and the steal rate for Rakocevic, well, that’s probably a fair reaction. A repeat of Thursday’s performance where those three combined for 10 personal fouls and five turnovers in 39 minutes may spell doom for the Golden Eagles.

Head Coach: Andy Enfield, in his ninth season as a head coach and seventh at USC. He has an overall record of 157-22 and a mark of 116-94 with the Trojans.

Hey, wasn’t he.... The head coach of that Florida Gulf Coast Dunk City team that ridiculously embarrassed Georgetown in the NCAA tournament? SURE WAS. Let’s watch that Chase Fieler alleyoop, shall we?

All Time Series: Marquette is 1-0 against USC, with the only other meeting coming in the 2012 Maui Invitational.