Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (7-2) at USC Trojans (5-4)
Head Coach: Mike Adras (Year 12: 179-152)
Conference: Big Sky
Stars: G Cameron James, G Gabe Rodgers
Location: Galen Center
Time: 1:00 PM (PDT)
TV: Fox Sports West
Radio: 710 AM
Matchup: Northern Arizona travels to Galen Center with a 7-2 record. Despite the gaudy record, Lumberjacks out of the Big Sky don’t have any quality wins to date. They have lost to Creighton and Iowa State, while their best win has come at CSU Bakersfield. The Lumberjacks aren’t exactly a perennial powerhouse. and USC needs to keep the focus up against this team.
USC has been hot and cold all year, but they came up with a stellar upset victory over No. 20 Texas. The Trojans have struggled against zone defense, but Texas played man and USC found openings. Nikola Vucevic turned in an amazing performance and led the USC offense. To start the season, USC has won two, lost two, won two, lost two, and won one. If the streak continues, a win is in the card for the Trojans.
Offensively, USC found its groove against Texas. They passed the ball and created open shots with intense penetration. However, the chances Northern Arizona plays man defense are slim. The Longhorns believed they could outlast USC with their athleticism, but the plan backfired. Throughout 2010, feeding the ball to Vucevic down low has been a success. He averages a double double and creates problems inside. Without a player on Northern Arizona over 6’9″, the Trojans should continue to look for Vucevic. Furthermore, Maurice Jones needs to continue his aggressive nature. With his quickness, he is able to draw the attention of more than one defender and create openings for his teammates. If he doesn’t draw the double team, he can take it to the hoop on his own man.
The Lumberjacks put forth a balanced attack, with four players averaging double figures. The guards are the most potent, with Cameron Jones and Gabe Rodgers the leading scorers. Maurice Jones has played solid defense to start the season, and half of the onus will be on him. He can handle himself with many of the guards in the country because he is shifty and can move laterally quickly. Forward Shane Johannson must be denied the ball in the paint. Once the senior touches the ball, the chances he scores are unbelievably high. Vucevic and Stepheson will have to muscle him out to prevent him from doing damage. Johannson averages only 10 points per game, but the 77.6% shooting percentage is of concern. The key to shutting him down is forcing him into long jumpers. He hasn’t even shot a three.