USC Trojans vs. Washington State Cougars
Galen Center | Los Angeles
8:30 PM Pacific | Pac-12 Network
The USC Trojans won their most important game of the season last week, defeating UCLA in overtime 75-71 at New Pauley Pavilion After waiting over a week, the Trojans next competitor Washington State comes to Galen Center looking to temper USC’s momentum.
The Washington State Cougars have hit rough times in Pac-12 play, but have shown an innate inability to give elite teams trouble. In non-conference play Washington State utilized their offense in the post to attack opposing teams, battling the likes of Kansas, Gonzaga, Texas A&M and Pepperdine and held their own while losing all four contests.
Besides a 37-point bludgeoning against Kansas, the Cougars lost the other three games by a combined 5 points. Washington State actually controlled the first half and presented quite the difficult challenge until Kevin Pangos made a last-second layup, giving Gonzaga the victory.
Losers of four out of their last five, Washington State (11-11, 2-7) has seen better days. The Cougars are led by Mike Bone, who owns a 57-46 (.553) mark with Washington State. Bone has definitely been the Cougars most successful coach earning more wins than nine previous men’s basketball coaches.
The main force behind the Cougars attack, Senior 6-foot-10 forward Brock Motum is averaging 18 PPG on 46-percent shooting. Motum can score from the perimeter, shoot the deep ball, carrying the team on his back offensively.
The biggest way to slow down the Australian force is by applying pressure with size and double teams to disrupt his rhythm. Motum scored a season-low 11 points against Arizona State, who have 7-foot-2 Jordan Bachynski to clean out the lane.
Expect Omar Oraby to recieve more playing time in this matchup, using his size to push out Motum, easier said than done however. Luckily for Washington State’s chances, size is no problem on the depth chart.
The Trojans will have to face another 6-foot-10 goliath in D.J. Shelton, who preferes to play away from the basket and stretch the defense. Shelton loves the 3-PT shot, shooting 41-percent from downtown and will take close to 40 percent of his shots from there.
Washington State is the lowest scoring offense in the conference, only averaging 63 points per game, but make up for their struggles on the defensive end of the court. The Cougars allow a league-low 60 points per night, and post strong defensive rebounding numbers.
The Trojans will have a chance to climb out of the bottom of the standings and make a run towards a five-five spot on Thursday. USC is currently ninth in the Pac-12 but only one game away from fifth place. This weekends series could push the Trojans back into the top-tier of the conference.
The Trojans biggest weakness remains on the glass and also defending the three-point shot. In order to combat these problems, the Cougars will need to improve their team 32-percent three-point shooting. This matchup definitely favors USC, but the Cougars could present some major problems if the pace of play slows down.
Projected Starting Lineups