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Long shots not falling for Trojans

Times Staff Writer

It’s no longer three’s company for USC without its Big Three.

The three-pointer was an effective weapon last season in Pacific 10 Conference play for the Trojans, who ranked fourth in the conference in three-pointers made (117) and first in three-point shooting percentage (40.9%) in large part because of the long-range proficiency of Lodrick Stewart, Nick Young and Gabe Pruitt.

This season three-pointers have become something of a longshot for USC. The Trojans have made only 13 three-pointers in four conference games -- fewest in the Pac-10 -- and are shooting 23.6% from long range in Pac-10 play.

“Our roster is different than it was a year ago,” Coach Tim Floyd said. “We utilize it from guys that can shoot it and do shoot it, and guys that can’t shoot it don’t shoot it.”

All four Trojans who regularly shoot three-pointers -- O.J. Mayo, Dwight Lewis, Daniel Hackett and Angelo Johnson -- are shooting worse from long range in conference games than they did before Pac-10 play. The discrepancy is most glaring for Hackett, who made 48.1% of his three-pointers in nonconference games but has missed all eight attempts in Pac-10 games.

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There appears to be little USC can do to bolster a bench that has been outscored, 88-15, in conference play, especially considering that 11 of those points came from regular starters coming off the bench against Stanford and Washington.

Injuries and the transfer of sophomore forward Kyle Austin have left the Trojans with only four available scholarship players off the bench in Johnson, Keith Wilkinson, Marcus Simmons and RouSean Cromwell. None of those players are considered scorers with the possible exception of Johnson.

Floyd brought Hackett off the bench for the first time this season Saturday against Washington but said he made the move not to strengthen his reserve corps but because he wanted Johnson to guard the Huskies’ Venoy Overton to start the game.

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ben.bolch@latimes.com


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