GAME #26: The USD Toreros (8-17, 3-11 WCC) will play back-to-back games this week with travel-partner BYU (19-8, 10-4). First up is this Thursday, Feb. 18th, at the Jenny Craig Pavilion. Tip-off is slated for 8:05 pm. The Toreros will then travel to Provo, Utah for a 6:00 p.m. (Pacific) contest on Saturday at the Marriott Center.
SERIES RECORD: This is the 13th meeting between USD and BYU with the Cougars owning a 9-3 series lead... Last season each team won on their home floor... USD edged BYU 77-74 on Jan. 24th with Thomas Jacobs totaling career highs of 19 points and 13 rebounds... BYU earned a 75-62 win in Provo on Feb. 19th... Cougar guard Tyler Hawes poured in 28 points... Over the past six games USD is 3-3 against the Cougars.
RADIO/TV/VIDEO STREAM: All USD home and away games will be broadcast live on ESPN 1700AM with Jack Cronin (2nd season); his pre-game show airs 10 minutes prior to tip-off. The contest will be broadcast by ESPNU (Roxy Bernstein & Corey Williams) and also air on WatchESPN. It will be a "REMI" production where producer/director/graphics/announcers will be based in Charlotte, North Carolina.
WCC STANDINGS (thru Feb. 15th): Gonzaga (12-2 WCC, 20-6), Saint Mary's (11-3, 20-4), BYU (10-4, 19-8), Pepperdine (9-6, 16-10), San Francisco (7-7, 14-11), Portland (5-9, 11-16), Santa Clara (5-9, 9-17), Pacific (5-9, 7-17), LMU (4-11, 11-15), San Diego (3-11, 8-17).
WCC COACHES PRESEASON POLL: The Toreros were picked 9th in the 2015-16 WCC Preseason Men's Basketball Coaches Poll... Team (First Place Vote) - 1. Gonzaga (9), 81 points; 2. BYU (2), 73 points; 3. Pepperdine, 62 points; 4. Saint Mary's, 58 points; 5. Portland, 43 points; 6. Santa Clara, 37points; 7. Pacific, 32 points; 7. San Francisco, 32 points; 9. San Diego, 17 points; 10. Loyola Marymount, 15 points.
COACH SMITH (1ST YEAR): Coach Lamont Smith (San Diego, 1998) is in his first head coaching position and comes from New Mexico where he was the Associate Head Coach... Prior to that he spent time at Washington, Arizona State, Santa Clara, Saint Mary's College and Saint Louis University... Smith, 40, returns to USD where he was a member of the men's basketball team from 1994-99... He started all 27 games his senior year in 1998-99 for the 18-9 Toreros... He was named the Toreros' Defensive Player of the Year in 1997 and 1999 and served as the team captain from 1997-99... Smith earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of San Diego in 1998... Lamont and his wife Kimberly have two daughters -- Payton and Olivia.
TORERO RECAP FROM BAY AREA TRIP: The Toreros travelled to the bay area last week and were dealt back-to-back losses by Santa Clara (74-71) on Thursday, and San Francisco (68-51) on Saturday... In Thursday's contest, SCU guard Jared Brownridge scored a game-high 19 points, including four clutch free throws in the final 36 seconds of play... The Toreros received a team-high 18 points from Duda Sanadze, with freshman guard Olin Carter III chipping in with 14 points... In the first half USD jumped out to a 9-2 lead only to see SCU rally with 6-of-11 three-point shooting to take a 36-32 halftime lead... Late in the game a Carter three pulled USD to within 61-60 with five minutes to go, but the Broncos would close out the game from there. On Saturday, USF received a game-high 18 points from guard Tim Derksen, with three other Dons players reaching double digits... USD was paced by Olin Carter III (11 points), Duda Sanadze (10) and Alex Floresca (10)... Trailing 31-17 at the half, USD rallied to get within six on two occasions, but USF answered and pushed the lead back to double digits.
* The Toreros return to the Jenny Craig Pavilion this Thursday where they own a 5-5 record ... Vasa Pusica (10.9 ppg) and Jito Kok (10.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg) pace the Toreros in home scoring... The Toreros are 2-4 in WCC home games with wins coming against LMU (77-69) and Pacific (54-43)... In home league contests USD is paced by Kok (11.2 ppg)... As a team in those six WCC games, USD averages 59.5 ppg while surrendering 64.2.
* Senior center Jito Kok ranks 1st in the WCC (#20 in nation thru games of Feb. 14) in blocked shots at 2.48 per game (62 in 25 contests)... He owns all three USD records for blocked shots - single game: 9 vs. UC Davis, 12-15-15; single season: 75 in 2014-15; career: 255 and counting... He is now 3rd all-time among WCC players, trailing only #1 Hondre Brewer of USF, 279 and #2 Omar Samhan of SMC, 258... With a minimum of 5 games left in the season, Kok needs 4 more blocks to move into the #2 spot, and would need 25 to set a new all-time WCC record... He ranks 7th among active career Division I blocked shot leaders (255).
* This past week senior Duda Sanadze scored a team-high 18 points at Santa Clara and followed with 10 points at USF... He leads the team with 15 games in double digits... He scored a career high 29 points at Portland on January 14th, and has reached 20 or more in five contests... Earlier this season he was named to the GCI Great Alaska Shootout All-Tournament team... In 86 career games he has now scored 902 points (10.5 ppg average).
* Against Pacific on Feb. 4th, sophomore guard Vasa Pusica matched his career-high of 19 points he set earlier this season against San Francisco... Against Pacific he converted all eight field goal attempts including a perfect 3-3 from beyond the arc... This season he has reached double-digit scoring eight times, including 17-point efforts against CSUN & LMU.
* Sophomore guard Marcus Harris made it back into the line-up at LMU on Jan. 23rd after missing four games due to an eye injury suffered late in the USF game on January 7th... He scored a career-high 23 points to lead the Toreros past the LMU Lions 77-69 at the JCP on January 30th... He made 7-11 shots from the field, 4-8 threes and 5-7 free throws.
* In the home win over LMU the Toreros buried 10-of-20 three-pointers... Besides Harris' 4-8 shooting, freshman guard Olin Carter III was 2-2; senior forward Duda Sanadze was 2-4, junior forward Brett Bailey was 1-2 and sophomore guard Vasa Pusica was 1-4... This marked the third time USD made 10 or more threes leading to a win - SDSU (10-27), CSUN (15-35)... The CSUN numbers are both single game records for makes and attempts.
* The WCC announced on January 22nd the adjusted WCC Men's Basketball Championship bracket. It has been revised to a nine-team format after the WCC membership reconfigured its men's basketball tournament due to the University of the Pacific's withdrawal. The #8 and #9 seeds will play on Friday, March 4th in a 6:00 p.m. contest (BYUtv, TheW.tv) with the winner advancing to play the #1 seed on Saturday, March 5th, in the 7:00 p.m. contest (ESPN2/WatchESPN).
* USD knocked off San Diego State in the annual City Championship game played outdoors at Petco Park on December 6th by the score of 53-48... Senior Duda Sanadze turned in an inspiring peformance with 15 points (5-10 in threes), 6 rebounds and a career-best 5 steals... Freshman guard Olin Carter III helped USD to a 31-13 halftime advantage by making 4-of-5 threes in the first 20 minutes.
* Four recent Toreros are currently playing professionally overseas - Gyno Pomare, '09 (Kanazawa Samuraiz; Kanazawa, Japan), Dennis Kramer, '14 (EWE Baskets; Oldenberg, Germany), Johnny Dee, '15 (Polpharma; Starogard Gdanski, Poland) and Christopher Anderson, '15 (Weissenhorn Youngstars; Weissenhorn, Germany).
SCOUTING THE BYU COUGARS: The BYU Cougars (19-8, 10-4 WCC) swept both bay area games last week against San Francisco (114-89) and Santa Clara (96-62)... Freshman guard Nick Emery was named the WCC Player of the Week and CBS National Player of the Week after averaging 34.0 ppg... Against USF Emery scored a career-high 37 points while connecting on 10-12 three-pointers... He followed up with 31 points in the win over Santa Clara... BYU has won five of their last six with the lone loss coming against Pacific on Feb. 6th by the score of 77-72... For the season four Cougars are averaging double digits - Chase Fischer (18.6 ppg; #5 in WCC), Nick Emery (16.1 ppg #8 WCC), Kyle Collinsworth (15.0 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 7.4 apg)... BYU owns a 5-6 record in "true" away games, and 8-7 overall away from the Marriott Center... BYU leads all WCC teams in scoring (84.3 ppg) for the season, and in WCC play (84.8 ppg)... Head Coach Dave Rose is in his 11th season (276-96).
A LOOK AHEAD: The Toreros play at BYU in Provo (Sat., Feb. 20th, 6pm Pacific on BYUtv). Next week the Toreros will close out their regular-season schedule with home games against Gonzaga (Thur., Feb. 25th, 7pm) and Portland (Sat., Feb. 27th, 6pm).
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