Hamilton heads home to face USC

Dan Hurwitz

Jordan Hamilton was in attendance when Texas played UCLA during the first Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series in 2007. Only a junior in high school at the time, the Los Angeles native witnessed a 63-61 Longhorn win.

This weekend he will return to his hometown when the Longhorns play USC on Sunday night in the final year of the series between the two conferences.

Hamilton, who grew up only five minutes from USC’s Galen Center, will have his own cheering section full of friends and family.

“It’s a business trip,” Hamilton said. “After the game I get to see some of my friends.”

There is no extra pressure for Hamilton in playing in front of those closest to him.

“I’m just going to go out there and have fun,” Hamilton said.

Texas had little trouble with the Trojans in last year’s matchup at the Frank Erwin Center, winning 69-50. This year, the Longhorns will run into a USC team that has been struggling this season and coming off of back to back losses to Nebraska and TCU.

“USC lost a couple games this year, but they are still a good team,” Hamilton said. “They are still a Pac-10 team.”

The game will be the Longhorns’ first true road game of the year. Despite the Hardwood Series not being renewed, head coach Rick Barnes hopes to still be able make it out to California for recruiting purposes.

“We will still be able to schedule out there,” Barnes said. “I’d like to get into California.”

While recruiting is on Barnes’ mind when heading west, what is most important is the game. And like the Trojans, the Longhorns have been far from perfect.

Riding a three-game win streak, Texas has struggled at times on the offensive end. Opposing teams have exposed the Longhorns’ weakness against a zone defense as they are challenging Texas to shoot from
the outside.

The long-range shot has been inconsistent this year, making only 32 percent of their three point attempts. Hamilton has led the way in shooting for the Longhorns, making 44 percent of his shots from behind the arc, and freshman Cory Joseph has been coming along as of late.

Joseph made only two of his first 13 attempts this season, but in the last two games converted seven of 12 threes.

“The more he is out there, the better he is going to be,” Barnes said.