USC Trojans vs. Arizona State Sun Devils
Wells Fargo Arena | Tempe, AZ
7:30 PM Pacific | Pac-12 Network
The USC Trojans are currently sixth in the Pac-12 and will have the opportunity to climb in the rankings versus the Arizona duo. The Trojans have split in every series in conference play, yet their road struggles remain winning only one road conference game in two seasons.
If the Trojans want to gain respect amongst the conference, they must play competitive basketball against an explosive Arizona State squad. The Sun Devils started the season as one of the hottest teams in the nation, winning 14 of 16 to start.
Coming in to the contest against USC, Arizona State suffered two-straight loses against Oregon and Arizona, leaving the Sun Devils at 3-2 in conference play. In the non-conference schedule, ASU lost to ranked-Creighton by 14 and Big-East opponent DePaul by 17 points.
The Devils’ offensive leader is freshmen Jahii Carson, who is averaging 17 PPG, while scoring at least 20 in his last three Pac-12 games on 50-percent shooting from the field.
In four losses this season, Carson has played some of his best basketball posting 30, 22, 20 and 12 point efforts. Not only is Carson scoring in bunches, but also is playing extensive minutes averaging an ASU freshmen-record 36 minutes per night.
Senior Carrick Felix with 14.6 PPG and Evan Gordon 10.1 PPG will attempt to lighten the load for their freshmen scoring leader. Junior center Jordan Bachynski averages 9.9 points and leads the conference with 79 blocks. The 7’2″ center from Calgary has been quite the intimidating presence in the paint, which will make life tough for seven-footers Omar Oraby and Dewayne Dedmon.
The Trojans are in uncharted waters offensively, scoring at least 69 points in their last three contests. The club has responded to the direction of interim head coach Bob Cantu with more aggressive play and a larger dedication towards driving to the basket. Luckily for USC, the Sun Devils only average 71 points, while allowing a stout 61 points per game.
Although the Sun Devils have struggled to dominate in terms of points, they are improving their shooting percentage in Pac-12 play. ASU has outshot the opponent in seven of the past eight games, as it shot .473 from the field at Oregon and held the Ducks to just .407 on their home floor.
Arizona State is 99-22 under Head Coach Herb Sendek when it outshoots the opponent during his seven-year ASU career. Coach Sendek has lead the Sun Devils to the NCAA Tournament once in 2009, and won Pac-12 Coach of the Year during the 2009-2010 season.
Statement games have not been unchartered territory for the Trojans, who are only one of only five teams in NCAA Division I to play seven RPI top-50 ranked teams. The Sun Devils meanwhile, have only faced four RPI top-50 teams; with their most impressive victory coming against Colorado.
The key matchup in this game will be between point guards Jio Fontan and Jahii Carson. The senior versus freshmen matchup features a strong attacker of the basket versus a premier lock-down perimeter defender.
Projected Starting Lineups