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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 30, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Pauley Pavilion (13,800) -- Los Angeles, California. Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: USC 6-4. UCLA 11-2. Away Record: USC 1-6, UCLA 3-1. Neutral Record: USC 1-2, UCLA 2-2. Conference Record: USC 3-5, UCLA 6-2. Series Record: UCLA leads, 132-104.
GAMES NOTES: The UCLA Bruins may have to host cross-town rival USC without their leading scorer on Wednesday night when the Trojans come to Pauley Pavilion for a Pac-12 rivalry game on Wednesday night.
Super freshman Shabazz Muhammad (18.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg) may be unable to help UCLA attempt to rebound from a 78-60 loss to Arizona State last weekend, as he missed practice on Tuesday with a stomach illness. He is still listed as questionable for the Bruins who are 16-5 overall this season and 6-2 in league play. The loss to the Sun Devils was the second in a tough three-game stretch for the Bruins that featured battles with nationally ranked Oregon and Arizona as well. UCLA's next two opponents (Washington and Washington State) will also make the trip to Pauley Pavilion where the Bruins are 11-2.
USC should be at full strength but that didn't seem to matter on Saturday when the Trojans were routed, 74-50, by Arizona. The loss was the third in the last four games for the Trojans. USC is now 8-13 overall on the campaign while holding a middling 3-5 mark in league play. Playing on the road is not likely to turn things around as the Trojans have just one win in seven trips. USC will host Washington State and Washington in consecutive games next.
These cross-town rivals have met 236 times previously with UCLA owning the 132-104 edge in the all-time series. The Bruins are riding a four-game winning streak against the Trojans after knocking them out of the Pac-12 Tournament last season with a 55-40 victory.
USC couldn't buy a bucket against Arizona. The Trojans shot just 28.1 percent in the contest including a 5-of-20 effort from beyond the arc. Turnovers also hampered USC which coughed the ball up a game-high 16 times while assisting on just six of its field goals.
Poor offensive showings have been the norm for USC, which is scoring just 65.3 points per game while shooting 42.6 percent from the floor. Each of those marks are among the three worst in the Pac-12 as are the Trojans' efforts on the glass (34.9 rpg). USC has been able to keep teams within striking distance on average though as it lets up just 66.9 points per game. Eric Wise (12.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg) leads a trio of scorers in double figures while shooting a stellar 50.8 percent from the field. In the backcourt J.T. Terrell (10.2 ppg) and Byron Wesley (10.0 ppg) are the other scoring options, though Terrell shoots just 32.8 percent from the field. Jio Fontan (9.2 ppg, 4.7 apg) has distributed well but shoots just 33.9 percent.
Erratic shooting also hurt UCLA in its loss to Arizona State. The Bruins managed to hit just 34.7 percent of their shots from the field including just 5-of-24 from beyond the arc. The Bruins were also outscored 13-5 from the free-throw line, while being dominated on the boards with a 53-33 deficit in rebounds.
Losing Muhammad would be bad enough by itself but the Bruins have also been playing without Travis Wear (12.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg) for the last couple of games as he continues to struggle with concussion symptoms. If neither can go on Wednesday they leave the scoring in the capable hands of Jordan Adams (15.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg). Adams can't do it by himself though which means the versatile Kyle Anderson (9.6 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 3.8 apg) and Pac-12 leading distributor Larry Drew (6.2 ppg, 8.0 apg) will have to look for their own shots more often. That is especially true if UCLA hopes to keep up the torrid offensive pace it has been on this season, as the Bruins rank at the top of the conference in points (77.1 pg), assists (17.3 pg) and field-goal percentage (.469).
Without two of their best scorers a lack of depth could make the Bruins susceptible to a loss. However Adams is strong enough to carry the squad, especially if Anderson, who has scored in double figures 11 times, and Drew can step up.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCLA 72, USC 63
01/30 14:05:37 ET
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