Marquette (3-1) vs. USC (3-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, November 21, 5 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Lahaina Civic Center (2,400) -- Maui, Hawaii. Television: ESPN 2. Home Record: Marquette 2-0, USC 2-0. Away Record: Marquette 0-0, USC 0-0. Neutral Record: Marquette 1-1, USC 1-1. Conference Record: Marquette 0-0, USC 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Marquette Golden Eagles and the USC Trojans will close out their experience at the Maui Invitational by squaring off in the fifth-place game at Lahaina Civic Center.
Marquette opened its season with a pair of wins against Colgate (84-63) and Southeastern Louisiana (64-53) before making the long trip to Hawaii for this holiday tournament. In its opening game of the event, the Eagles led a back- and-forth contest against Butler by two in the waning seconds before Rotnei Clarke hit the game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer. They were able to take their frustration out of Mississippi State in their next game however, winning handily, 89-62.
USC also started the season 2-0 at home before heading to Maui with wins over Coppin State (87-73) and Long Beach State (62-44), but in the opening round of the Invitational, it was beat handily by Illinois, 94-64. The Trojans rebounded nicely with an overtime win over Texas on Tuesday, 59-53, to secure a spot in the fifth-place game.
This bout marks the first time these two schools have met on the hardwood.
USC has not been a great offensive team over the past few seasons, and the start of the 2012-13 campaign has been no exception as it is making just 42 percent of its field goal attempts for 68 ppg. Luckily for the Trojans, they've played great at the defensive end of the floor, forcing opponents to shoot less than 40 percent from the field, including Texas on Tuesday night (.370). Eric Wise paced the squad with 13 points and four steals, while Jio Fonton added 11 points and six assists. Byron Wesley tallied 10 points and seven rebounds, and while J.T. Terrell finished with just nine points, he tied the game with a bucket late in regulation and sealed the game with four free throws in the final minute of overtime. Terrell is the team's leading scorer on the young season (11.8 ppg), although he's making less than 30 percent of his field goal attempts. Wise (10.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg), Dewayne Dedmon (7.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg) and Fonton (7.5 ppg, 4.5 apg) have also been effective in the early going.
The Golden Eagles had their best offensive output of the season against Mississippi State on Tuesday, connecting on 52.1 percent of their field goal attempts (including 63.6 percent of their three-point attempts), as they got out to a 21-point halftime lead and never looked back. Pacing four players in double figures was Vander Blue, who shot 8-of-14 from the field for 18 points. Davante Gardner saw 22 minutes of action off the bench and took advantage with a double-double consisting of 15 points and 12 rebounds. Trent Lockett chipped in with 13 points and Jamil Wilson added 11 points and blocked four shots. On the season, Gardner is the team's top scorer (14.8 ppg) and rebounder (7.8 rpg) despite not starting a game. Blue nets 12.8 ppg, but he has more turnovers (nine) than assists (seven). Junior Cadougan runs the point and although he scores just 7.8 ppg, he dishes out 4.0 apg. Marquette has been sound both on the boards (plus-3.8 rebounding margin) and in the takeaway department (plus-3.8 turnover margin).
There is plenty of pride on the line in this game. Claiming fifth place in an early-season tournament doesn't mean much, but both teams would like to leave Hawaii on a positive note. USC's style of play almost guarantees this to be a tight matchup, and while it will slow Marquette down a bit, the Eagles have enough playmakers to outlast the Trojans.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Marquette 62, USC 56
11/21 10:36:48 ET