USC (14-16) at Washington State (12-18)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 9, 6:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Beasley Coliseum (11,671) -- Pullman, California. Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: USC 10-6, WSU 9-7. Away Record: USC 3-8, WSU 1-9. Neutral Record: USC 1-2, WSU 2-2. Conference Record: USC 9-8, WSU 3-14. Series Record: USC leads, 68-46.
GAMES NOTES: Coming off their stunning win over No. 23 UCLA, the Washington State Cougars will try to close out the season on another positive note when they face the USC Trojans in a Pac-12 battle at Beasley Coliseum.
The Trojans are still trying to get their footing for the upcoming Pac-12 Tournament. If they can get a win in this contest and Arizona State and Washington both lose they would have the sixth seed. USC is coming off a critical loss to Washington that didn't help its chances as it is now 14-16 overall and 9-8 in league play, tied with the Sun Devils and Huskies for sixth in the league standings.
The Cougars are currently in a tie for the 11th spot in the conference and could pull in that seed with a win and a loss by Oregon State on Saturday. The Cougars' 73-61 win against UCLA was a shocker not just because it was their third win in league play but the first victory by double digits against the Bruins since 1938. It was also just their 15th win all-time against UCLA and broke a nine-game losing streak for the Cougars.
When these teams met at the beginning of February at the Galen Center USC edged Washington State, 72-68, behind 20 points from Byron Wesley. The win ended a three-game win streak for the Cougars and improved the Trojans' all- time series edge to 68-46.
Dewayne Dedmon and J.T. Terrell combined for 34 points against Washington but the rest of the Trojans managed just 23 points in the 65-57 loss. As a team the Trojans connected on just 37.5 percent of their shots from the floor, while being on the short end of a 48-29 deficit on the boards.
USC has been a team that will often go cold from the field. The Trojans are the third worst shooting team in the conference (.429), while also fitting into that spot in scoring (66.1 pg). The Trojans' biggest strength has at times been their biggest weakness. Wesley (10.5 ppg), J.T. Terrell (11.4 ppg) and Jio Fontan (9.5 ppg, 5.2 apg) lead a solid backcourt for the Trojans but they have been prone to droughts. For example against Washington they combined to net just 7-of-27 shots from the field. Eric Wise (12.1 ppg) is another inconsistent performer as his seven-point effort against Washington was the third time in six games he has failed to reach double figures.
Brock Motum (20 points, 11 rebounds) and Dexter Kernich-Drew (11 points, 11 rebounds) each posted double-doubles to lead Washington State over UCLA. The Cougars shot an impressive 49.1 percent from the field and limited the normally prolific Bruins to just 38.6 percent.
Motum (17.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg) is one of the more under-appreciated players in the league. The 6-foot-10 forward has scored in double figures in all 30 games this season, while he ranks in the top three in the conference in scoring. With Mike Ladd (11.4 ppg) out with left knee injury yet again, Kernich-Drew (6.4 ppg) really played well against UCLA for the Cougars. Generally Washington State has not been a team that rolls out big point totals, as the Cougars rank second to last in the conference in points (64.1 pg) and field-goal percentage (.427).
Wins have been few and far between for the Cougars this season but this contest sets up as what could be their first win streak since December. The Trojans will hang around, but the Cougars might just be able to pull it off.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Washington State 66, USC 64
03/09 10:46:14 ET