USC (12-13) at California (15-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, February 17, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Haas Pavilion (11,877) -- Berkeley, California. Television: FSN. Home Record: USC 8-5, California 8-4. Away Record: USC 5-6, California 4-5. Neutral Record: USC 1-2, California 3-0. Conference Record: USC 7-5, California 7-5. Series Record: California leads, 131-121.
GAMES NOTES: Two teams that have been crashing the party at the top of the Pac-12 recently will match up at Haas Pavilion on Sunday night when the USC Trojans face the California Golden Bears.
Just a few weeks ago it looked as if USC would yet again be at the bottom of the Pac-12. However, the Trojans have been surging of late with wins in four straight contests, including a tough 65-64 win on the road over Stanford on Thursday. The Trojans are still under .500 overall (12-13) but at 7-5 in league action are surging towards the upper half of the league standings. USC begins an important three-game homestand next against cross-town rival UCLA.
As for California, back-to-back wins over No. 9 Arizona and UCLA have the Golden Bears' once dim NCAA Tournament hopes alive again. The 15-9 Golden Bears, who have also won four of their last five games, still have an outside shot at the a berth in the tournament field. The Golden Bears are also locked into the crowded Pac-12 standings with USC at 7-5. A trip north to face Oregon and Oregon State is next on the docket for California which will then play its final three games at home.
On Jan. 5 California pushed past USC, 72-64, for its third straight win in the series. The Golden Bears now lead the all-time series, 131-121.
After jumping out to a 35-23 lead at halftime against Stanford the Trojans had to hold on in the final period to collect the hard-earned one-point win. In the final four minutes of the game USC did not record a field goal but did knock down 6-of-8 from the free-throw line.
As its record might indicate, USC has fought to about even on the season. The Trojans have just a slim deficit in scoring margin (-0.5), despite ranking in the bottom three teams in the conference in points (66.2 pg) and field-goal percentage (.429). Meanwhile on the defensive end the Trojans hold teams to 41.6 percent shooting and 66.7 points per contest. Eric Wise (12.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg) is the leading scorer on the team but has been inconsistent recently failing to score in double figures in three of the last five games. The Trojans' real strength is in the backcourt where J.T. Terrell (10.7 ppg), Byron Wesley (10.1 ppg) and Jio Fontan (9.6 ppg, 5.1 apg) have come together as a unit.
Against UCLA, California rolled out to a 47-22 lead at halftime by collecting 20 field goals on 58.8 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes. After halftime the Golden Bears cooled to 40 percent shooting but it was more than enough to hold off the Bruins.
Allen Crabbe (19.6 ppg, 5.5 apg) didn't need to go to super-human levels to carry California against UCLA as he had a solid game with 16 points and five assists. The Pac-12's leading scorer, Crabbe erupted for 31 points against Arizona in the previous game and has scored in double figures in 11 of the Golden Bears' 12 conference bouts. Normally complementary pieces, David Kravish (8.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg) and Richard Solomon (8.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg) played some of their best basketball of the season against UCLA as they combined for 35 points on 16-of-21 shooting, while collecting 21 rebounds. Adding scoring depth for the Golden Bears out of the backcourt is Justin Cobbs (14.5 ppg, 4.5 apg), who also leads the team in assists.
Crabbe has made a real case for Pac-12 Player of the Year and with his length, he will give the undersized USC backcourt some trouble. The Golden Bears are rolling right now and playing at home should continue their winning streak.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: California 71, USC 66
02/17 10:35:49 ET