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Feb. 7, 2006

Note: USC returns home on Sat., Feb. 11 for a 6 pm contest with Mississippi State. Good seats still remain for all five home games including Kentucky on Feb. 18.

USC Head Coach Dave Odom met with the media on Tuesday to discuss Wednesday’s game at Florida. Sophomore sharpshooter Dwyane Day met with the media as well and reflected back on his 14-point performance a year in Gainesville.

“I just watched the best half of basketball I’ve seen this year by the University of Florida – the second half against Kentucky last weekend. They were efficient on offense, on defense, played with great enthusiasm, used their bench well, the fans were right there with them and it was an overall impressive performance. Kentucky played well so that just tells you how good Florida is. It’s been two weeks since we played each other and both teams have changed. They probably have gotten better. I am not sure we have. We have played well at times but not consistently well at any time. We are searching for that right combination. We asked them to show up yesterday at practice and they did that for a while. They lost a little bit of toughness towards the end, but we need to remember we need to keep our focus over the duration of practice or a game. That concerns me.

“Renaldo (Balkman) practiced the whole time yesterday. His biggest problem is confidence. He runs the court well, but until he gets it hit one time or comes down on it uncomfortably he will wonder if he is completely healed. He looks to be OK.

“Our biggest job we have tomorrow night is stopping their fast break and their run outs from the other side. Lee Humphrey is back. Corey Brewer is completely healthy. Taurean Green had a ‘Chris Paul like performance’ in the second half against Kentucky. He is playing with more speed, more confidence. He looked like as good of a guard as there is in the US. Combined with Jo Noah, that’s a terrible twosome right there.

“Playing at Florida, we have a challenge on our hands. But one I look forward to it. It would be a huge mistake on our part to think we get home on Saturday and everything will be alright. We have to go after it with everything we have and why wouldn’t we. That’s the approach I gave our team yesterday and I think they understand it.”

Q: Are the guys buying into what you are telling them? Have they given up?

Odom: No, they haven’t given up. I don’t think they would come back to practice and practice as hard as they have if their minds were elsewhere.

Q: How will the last game effect this (win over Florida)?

Odom: Let’s face it; we beat them so we know it can be done. I have tried to build on that. I told them if you have done something once you can do it again. There is no question about it. But there are certain things that must be remembered and built upon – how did we beat them? We have to be ready for something different from an attack standpoint. I think they will press us more. I am expecting pressure. We have done reasonably well against that so we will see.

Q: What about the games since?

Odom: If you go back to the Tennessee game and we played pretty well until the last three minutes and then that kind of exploded on us. There was an unsettled nervousness about the way we started (at Arkansas). It’s not easy to get it turned back. Combine that with Jonathon Modica having a career day. That bothered me because we couldn’t stop him. If we were able to get a handle on him, we could have been in it. We did do some good things, but we couldn’t get a handle on it. One game does affect another, but it can’t be bringing negative feelings from one game to the next. If you are carrying positive vibes than you want to build on it.

Q: Are you worried they will look ahead to the games at home?

Odom: Players are affected by things. What they read, what they hear, who they talk to and how they feel (winning or losing). So my job as a coach is to over-ride the negative part of what they hear whether it’s real or not. Media are good at sometimes crafting things the way it sells best. But our record is 11-10. The more they hear those kind of things they start looking for something positive. I don’t wanna hear if you get by this Florida game you have got (home games). I want to attack the Florida game. Surely the schedule will be more in our favor than it has been, but there is still a lot of work to do.

Q: How difficult is it to sweep a team like Florida?

Odom: At this point any win is going to be a confidence booster for us. Being able to beat a team like Florida is another type of confidence booster and more meaningful. But in the final analysis as a win is a win and it’s certainly something our players would take a good deal of pride in. I know certainly I would.

We will get their best shot. No question about that. That’s college athletics and that is the way it goes. We need to be ready for that; we don’t need to be surprised by that. We need to prepare for that. It’s not going to be a surprise. Their fans will be ready, their coaches will be ready – we must be ready.

Sophomore Dwayne Day

Q: Can you beat Florida a second time?

Day: Hopefully yes. We have to play hard and come out as a team. If we get our minds right we can. When we beat them in Columbia we got back in transition and rebounded the ball very well. We didn’t try to run with them, we slowed it down a little bit and took them out of their game. They will play as hard as they can and we have to keep the task at hand. The guys are excited about the game and we can’t wait for the ball to go up in the air tomorrow night for the tip-off. He (Coach Odom) told the guys yesterday to keep faith and play like we know we can.

Q: How sweet would it be to sweep Florida?

Day: I don’t think it matters – the losses will be there and the wins will be there to. We have to look to the future and get more wins than losses.

Q: You had a great game at Florida last year, scoring 14 points off the bench.

Day: Hitting those shots last year – it was a real big game last year. I think about that night once in awhile. But this is a new year, I have to keep my head on right and play hard.

Q: What about Florida having the nation’s second longest winning streak?

Day: We don’t go into any game uncertain than we can win. We have to keep our heads on right. A lot of them believe we can. The ones who believe play a lot. We know we need to play hard.