GAMES NOTES: Coming off a big upset win over crosstown rival UCLA, the USC
Trojans will host the Washington State Cougars in a Pac-12 Conference battle
at the Galen Center on Thursday night.
Washington State's upset bid against No. 7 Arizona was thwarted last Saturday
with the Cougars falling 79-65. The loss was the fourth in the last five
games for the Cougars, who have had their overall record evened at 11-11. That
includes a mark of just 2-7 in league play which has the Cougars tied for
10th in the conference standings. In five previous road tests Washington
State has earned just a single win.
USC enters this contest coming off its biggest win of the season as it topped
the cross-town rival UCLA Bruins in overtime, 75-71, at Pauley Pavilion last
time out. The win improved the Trojans to 9-13 overall and to 4-5 in
conference play. The win was just the second in the last five games though for
the Trojans. USC has fought to a 6-5 mark at the Galen Center this season.
In the all-time series USC holds a 67-46 edge, although Washington State has
won three straight and five of the last six meetings.
The Cougars' perimeter defense was scorched against the Wildcats as Arizona
knocked down 11 shots from 3-point range. Meanwhile Washington State shot just
40.8 percent in the game overall.
Poor offensive showings have been nothing new for the Cougars. They rank at
the bottom of the conference in scoring (63.5), while managing to be just a
spot better in assists (11.5 pg) and field-goal percentage (.424). The Cougars
are also the worst rebounding team in the conference (34.6 pg. The offensive
struggles are that much harder to take considering Washington State has the
services of one of the best scorers in the conference in Brock Motum (18.3
ppg, 6.7 rpg), who is currently third in the Pac-12. The issue has been
getting support for Motum, as Mike Ladd (11.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg) is one of the few
options outside of the big man.
Jio Fontan and Aaron Fuller each scored 15 points as five players scored in
double figures for the Trojans in their win over UCLA. The Trojans led by as
many as 15 points in the contest but were unable to hold off a late rally from
the Bruins and needed an extra period to settle matters. The Trojans trailed
71-70 with two minutes left in overtime but netted the last five points to
secure the victory.
USC haven't been much better offensively, ranked 10th in the Pac-12 in points
(65.7 pg) and field-goal percentage (.428), while eighth in assists (12.5 pg).
USCc is also just a step ahead of the Cougars in rebounds (35.4 rpg). Eric
Wise (12.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg) is the leading scorer on the roster and will have the
unenviable task of matching up with Motum in the frontcourt. J.T. Terrell
(10.2 ppg) and Byron Wesley (10.0 ppg) are the only other double-figure
scorers on the roster. As he showed against UCLA, Fontan (9.5 ppg, 4.8 apg)
can be more than just a facilitator.
Much of USC's win over UCLA has to go to the energy the Trojans got from
playing a top rival. Still the Cougars are too one-dimensional on the
offensive end for the Trojans to have a letdown at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: USC 67, Washington State 62
02/07 10:38:11 ET
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