USC (8-12) at (6) Arizona (16-2)
Saturday, January 26, 7 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Phil Neuffer, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: McKale Center (14,545) -- Tucson, Arizona. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: USC 6-5, Arizona 9-1. Away Record: USC 1-5, Arizona 4-1. Neutral Record: USC 1-2, Arizona 3-0. Conference Record: USC 3-4, Arizona 4-2. Series Record: Arizona leads, 60-40.
GAME NOTES: Coming off its first loss at home of the season the No. 6 Arizona Wildcats will look to bounce back when they host the USC Trojans in Pac-12 action at the McKale Center.
The Trojans nearly pulled off an upset of their own on Thursday before falling 98-93 on the road to Arizona State in overtime. The Trojans haven't rely been able to pick up any momentum in either the winning or losing direction of late trading wins and losses over its last four contests. USC is 8-12 with that including a 3-4 mark against league foes. The loss to Arizona State was the fifth in six true road contest for the Trojans who end this three-game road trip against UCLA on Wednesday.
It is that same Bruins that dashed Arizona's perfect mark at the McKale Center with an 84-73 victory over the Wildcats on Thursday. With the loss the sixth- ranked Wildcats are now 16-2 overall with both losses coming during their six conference matchups. After starting the season 14-0 the Wildcats have now split their last four contests. Next up for Arizona is a trip to the Evergreen State to do battle with Washington and Washington State in consecutive games.
Arizona earned a series sweep last season and has won five of the last six meetings with USC to increase its all-time series lead to 60-40.
USC forced the eighth and final tie of regulation to send the game to overtime against Arizona State on a buzzer beating 3-pointer from Jio Fontan. However the Trojans couldn't muster up enough offense in the extra session as they hit just 3-of-8 shots from the floor including misses on both shots from beyond the arc.
The 93 points that USC put up against Arizona State would be considered an offensive eruption for most squads and that is especially true for the Trojans. On the season USC, which scored a season-high in the loss, is just 10th in the Pac-12 in both scoring (66.1 ppg) and field goal percentage (.434). Fontan (9.2 ppg, 4.9 apg) really stepped out of his role as primary distributor to drop in 25 points against Arizona State. Normally it is Eric Wise (12.8 ppg), Byron Wesley (10.1 ppg) and J.T. Terrell (10.6 ppg) who have handled the scoring duties.
Arizona trailed by as many as 15 points against UCLA and never got closer than six points in the last five minutes in the loss to the Bruins. The Wildcats, who shot just 38.4 percent from the field in the contest, hurt themselves with turnovers as their 14 miscues led to 21 points for the Bruins.
The transfer from Xavier for Mark Lyons has largely paid high dividends for Arizona. The 6-foot-1 guard is scoring a career-high 15.2 points per game while matching a career best with 3.1 assists per game as both the leading scorer and distributor for the Wildcats. Joining Lyons in double figures on the season is athletic forward Solomon Hill (13.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg) and Nick Johnson (13.3 ppg) who is coming off one of his best efforts of the season, netting 23 points against UCLA. Led by Lyons, Hill and Johnson, the Wildcats have been scoring a healthy 75.6 points per game on 45.7 percent shooting this season. The Wildcats also own a massive advantage on the boards (+9.0), while outscoring opponents by nearly 13 points per game.
With how well Arizona has scored this season its hard to imagine that Lyons and company won't be able to rebound from a loss to a talented UCLA squad.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arizona 78, USC 65
01/26 10:34:00 ET