USC (10-16) at California (17-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, February 23, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Haas Pavilion (7,300) -- Berkeley, California. Television: FS1. Home Record: USC 8-6, Cal 11-3. Away Record: USC 1-8, Cal 5-4. Neutral Record: USC 1-2, Cal 1-2. Conference Record: USC 1-12, Cal 8-5. Series Record: California leads, 132-121.
GAME NOTES: California will try to bounce back from a big loss, as the Golden Bears play host to the USC Trojans in a Pac-12 Conference matchup at Haas Pavilion.
Despite playing at home, California was routed by No. 23 UCLA on Wednesday night, 86-66. The Golden Bears had won three of their previous four games prior to that setback. They are now 17-9 overall and in a three-way tie for fourth place in the Pac-12 standings with Arizona State and Stanford (8-5). Next up is a rematch with fourth-ranked Arizona, who they stunned on Feb. 1 in a 60-58 final.
USC has been whipped far too often this season, and it added to its collection of lopsided losses on Thursday with an 80-59 setback against Stanford. The Trojans have dropped all but one of their 13 league bouts this season, the first under head coach Andy Enfield. They will visit Oregon State and Oregon in their next two bouts.
Revenge is expected to be the order of the day for Cal in this contest, as it hopes to make amends for a 77-69 loss to USC back on Jan. 22. That decision ended a four-game win streak for the Golden Bears in the all-time series, which they still lead, 132-121.
USC was able to hold Stanford to 40.6 percent shooting, but countered by netting only 36.2 percent itself. The Trojans also turned the ball over 18 times, while forcing only seven miscues from the Cardinal. Pe'Shon Howard scored a team-high 13 points, but on just 5-of-14 shooting.
Part of the blame of Thursday's loss can be put on the absence of leading scorer Byron Wesley (17.6 ppg), who was serving the first part of a two-game suspension. He will be out again for this matchup. However, even with Wesley in the mix, the Trojans have not had the type of offensive success that was imagined when Enfield took over. They are next-to-last in the Pac-12 in scoring (71.3 ppg), while only shooting 44.3 percent from the field. Aside from Wesley, Howard (10.5 ppg, 4.2 apg) is the only double-digit scorer on the roster.
California simply couldn't keep up with the torrid offensive pace UCLA set on Wednesday. The Golden Bears shot at a 43.6 percent clip, but that was far behind the 56.9 percent effort turned in by the Bruins. Jordan Matthews scored 16 points off the bench to lead the losing side.
Perhaps the most troubling fact for Cal in the UCLA game was that Justin Cobbs (15.7 ppg, 6.1 apg) struggled as much as he did. The 6-foot-3 guard, who leads the team in scoring and assists, finished with only seven points on 2-of-8 shooting from the floor in the loss. He has only 17 points on 5-of-19 shooting in the last two games combined. Tyrone Wallace (11.8 ppg), David Kravish (11.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg) and Richard Solomon (11.5 ppg, 10.2 rpg), who leads the Pac-12 in rebounds, follow Cobbs on the scorers' sheet. However, Mathews (8.9 ppg) is a streaky shooter who can carry the offensive load if required.
If California hopes to get back into the Pac-12 title chase and keep itself in the running for a NCAA Tournament bid, Cobbs needs to break out of his slump. Playing USC should be the perfect remedy, especially with Wesley out once again.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: California 76, USC 63
02/23 10:16:14 ET