Huskies Look To Move One Step Closer to Pac-12 Regular Season Title

The Huskies come into the final week of the regular season controlling their own destiny following a California loss at the hands of Colorado (we owe you one Buffs). Step one seems relatively simple, as the Dawgs travel to USC to take on the Trojans, who are just 1-15 in conference. This year’s Trojans team is the worst set of basketball players that this conference has seen in a long time. The Huskies cruised to a 28-point victory when these two squads faced off in Seattle at the beginning of February.

The Basics

7:30 P.M. PST. No TV. Galen Center.

Washington Huskies (20-8; 13-3) USC Trojans (6-23; 1-15)

G

Abdul Gaddy

6’3

G

Maurice Jones

5’7

G

Tony Wroten

6’5

G

Alexis Moore

6’2

G/F

Terrence Ross

6’6

G/F

Byron Wesley

6’5

F

Darnell Gant

6’7

F

Garrett Jackson

6’6

C

Aziz N’Diaye

7’0

F

James Blasczyk

7’1

Breaking Down USC

Words cannot describe how sorry the rest of the Pac-12 coaches should feel regarding Kevin O’Neill’s squad. USC has been plagued with injuries the entire season and their tattered remains consist of just six scholarship players. In Husky terms, this Trojans team legitimately has to use players with credentials closer to Brendon Sherrer and Alex Wegner than Abdul Gaddy and C.J. Wilcox.

USC’s biggest issues start with their offense, or more their lack of offense. USC ranks third to last in the country in points per game at 53.3. It says something when a team’s leading scorer (Maurice Jones, 13.5 ppg) is shooting just 34% from the field. The Trojans do not have another healthy player in double digits. Another USC fun fact, the only player shooting above 68% from the free throw line this season Daniel Munoz, who averages a free throw attempt every five games and is 2-2 from the line this year. O’Neill’s team also ranks in the bottom eight in the country with 9.5 assists per game.

Washington thrashed USC the last time these teams played despite shooting just 48% from the field and going 2-14 from beyond the arc. The Huskies outrebounded the Trojans 52-23 and limited them to 28% from the field and just 1-16 from three. That game was when I realized just how far the Pac-12 has fallen. USC has no business competing in a Big Six conference. In fact, they hardly resemble a Division I basketball program.

The Starting Five: Keys to the Game

Rebounding: UW did not play a good game the last time these two teams faced off and still won by 28. The Huskies overcame 17 turnovers and poor shooting by winning the rebounding battle by 29, more than doubling USC’s total. No Trojan can match Terrence Ross’ athleticism and it showed as T-Ross finished with a season-high 14 rebounds.

Looking Ahead: The only, and I mean only, way UW loses this game is if they completely fall flat on their face looking forward to the regular-season finale against UCLA on CBS this weekend. The Dawgs’ can get away with a sloppy game if USC doesn’t play their best game of the year. This is just pre-cautionary; we shouldn’t count our chickens before they hatch.

Experience for ASJ: Sefarian-Jenkins is potentially looking at a playing time increase come Pac-12 tournament time as UW will be hoping to play 3 games in 3 days. He can receive some very valuable PT Thursday night and could surpass his season-high in minutes (16).

Taking Care of the Ball: The Huskies turned the ball over 17 times in the last match-up and Wroten only had one. The rest of the team got extremely sloppy with the ball, especially in the second half after the game was in hand. UW needs to focus and keep momentum heading in Saturday.

Brendan Sherrer’s Streak: Look for some PT from the Dawg Pack’s favorite!

Prediction

USC has lost six games in a row and 15 of 16 overall. I don’t see them breaking their losing streak. The Trojans are too undermanned to compete with a team as talented with Washington. The Dawgs cruise to a 71-51 victory and move one step closer to an outright Pac-12 regular season championship.

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