USC at No. 11 ARIZONA
When: Thursday, 6 p.m. PT
Where: McKale Center, Tucson, Ariz.
TV/Radio: Pac-12 Network/790 AM
Records: USC is 13-5 overall, 5-2 Pac-12; Arizona is 15-3, 4-3 Pac-12
USC’s latest result: Boogie Ellis scored 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting, Tre White added 13 points and the Trojans put together one of their best all-around efforts of the season to beat Utah, 71-56. Reese Dixon-Waters and Drew Peterson each had 11 points, six rebounds and four assists as USC continued to work on its NCAA Tournament resume with an impressive showing. After the Utes opened the game 7 for 11 from the floor, the Trojans limited them to 28% shooting the rest of the way. They also outrebounded Utah 41-29.
Arizona’s latest result: The Wildcats fell out of the top 10 of the AP rankings after their third conference loss to an unranked foe – an 87-68 defeat against Jermaine Couisnard and Oregon on Saturday night in Eugene. Arizona power forward Azuolas Tubelis was limited to 14 points in the loss. The Wildcats might not be able to afford another loss and still contend for the Pac-12 title, so the Trojans should be running into a highly motivated opponent that is traditionally tough to beat on its home court.
Matchup to watch: Arizona backcourt vs. USC defense. Arizona’s formidable frontcourt, led by 6-foot-11 Tubelis (20.4 ppg, 9 rpg) and 7-foot center Oumar Ballo (16.3 ppg, 9.1 rpg), will surely do its share of damage, but the Wildcat guards haven’t played particularly well lately. If Kerr Kriisa and his peers can hit some 3-pointers, that could be the difference-maker against the Trojans. USC has length and is adept at clogging passing lanes, making it difficult to feed the post, but the Trojans can be burned from outside at times. Washington State made 14 3-pointers to beat USC on New Year’s Day in Pullman.
USC trend to watch: Ellis has scored in double figures in each of the last eight games following a three-game stretch in which he scored a total of 18 points on 7-of-28 shooting (2 for 15 from 3-point range). Peterson is averaging 13.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists. USC is holding its opponents to 38% shooting this season – 10th in the nation – and has held three of its past five opponents below 35%. Offensively, USC is eighth in the Pac-12 in 3-point shooting (31.9%).