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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 7, 11:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Galen Center (10,258) -- Los Angeles, California. Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: WSU 8-5. USC 6-5. Away Record: WSU 1-4, USC 2-6. Neutral Record: WSU 2-2, USC 1-2. Conference Record: WSU 2-7, USC 4-5. Series Record: USC leads, 67-46.
GAMES NOTES: Coming off a big upset win over crosstown rival UCLA, the USC Trojans will host the Washington State Cougars in a Pac-12 Conference battle at the Galen Center on Thursday night.
Washington State's upset bid against No. 7 Arizona was thwarted last Saturday with the Cougars falling 79-65. The loss was the fourth in the last five games for the Cougars, who have had their overall record evened at 11-11. That includes a mark of just 2-7 in league play which has the Cougars tied for 10th in the conference standings. In five previous road tests Washington State has earned just a single win.
USC enters this contest coming off its biggest win of the season as it topped the cross-town rival UCLA Bruins in overtime, 75-71, at Pauley Pavilion last time out. The win improved the Trojans to 9-13 overall and to 4-5 in conference play. The win was just the second in the last five games though for the Trojans. USC has fought to a 6-5 mark at the Galen Center this season.
In the all-time series USC holds a 67-46 edge, although Washington State has won three straight and five of the last six meetings.
The Cougars' perimeter defense was scorched against the Wildcats as Arizona knocked down 11 shots from 3-point range. Meanwhile Washington State shot just 40.8 percent in the game overall.
Poor offensive showings have been nothing new for the Cougars. They rank at the bottom of the conference in scoring (63.5), while managing to be just a spot better in assists (11.5 pg) and field-goal percentage (.424). The Cougars are also the worst rebounding team in the conference (34.6 pg. The offensive struggles are that much harder to take considering Washington State has the services of one of the best scorers in the conference in Brock Motum (18.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg), who is currently third in the Pac-12. The issue has been getting support for Motum, as Mike Ladd (11.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg) is one of the few options outside of the big man.
Jio Fontan and Aaron Fuller each scored 15 points as five players scored in double figures for the Trojans in their win over UCLA. The Trojans led by as many as 15 points in the contest but were unable to hold off a late rally from the Bruins and needed an extra period to settle matters. The Trojans trailed 71-70 with two minutes left in overtime but netted the last five points to secure the victory.
USC haven't been much better offensively, ranked 10th in the Pac-12 in points (65.7 pg) and field-goal percentage (.428), while eighth in assists (12.5 pg). USCc is also just a step ahead of the Cougars in rebounds (35.4 rpg). Eric Wise (12.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg) is the leading scorer on the roster and will have the unenviable task of matching up with Motum in the frontcourt. J.T. Terrell (10.2 ppg) and Byron Wesley (10.0 ppg) are the only other double-figure scorers on the roster. As he showed against UCLA, Fontan (9.5 ppg, 4.8 apg) can be more than just a facilitator.
Much of USC's win over UCLA has to go to the energy the Trojans got from playing a top rival. Still the Cougars are too one-dimensional on the offensive end for the Trojans to have a letdown at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: USC 67, Washington State 62
02/07 10:38:11 ET