USC Basketball Game Preview: Lehigh Mountain Hawks


Lehigh Mountain Hawks (6-5) at USC Trojans (7-5)

Head Coach:

Conference: Patriot


Location: Los Angeles, CA (Galen Center)

Time: 5:30 PM (PDT)

TV: None

Radio: 710 AM

Matchup: USC returns home from a grueling road trip after nearly upsetting No.3 Kansas and slaying No. 18 Tennessee. Transfer guard Jio Fontan played his first two games in a Trojan uniform this past weekend, and USC looked sharp in the final three halves of play. Despite the improved play, coach Kevin O’Neill expects a drop off in play tonight according to Scott Wolf of the LA Daily News.

Lehigh comes to the Galen Center on a two game winning streak, but USC will be its toughest test to date. The Mountain Hawks haven’t beaten anyone of note, and they have lost to the likes of Penn State.

With Jio Fontan, USC’s offense has looked rather good the past two games. The zone defense frustrated USC in 2009 and at the beginning of 2010, but Fontan’s talents have helped the Trojans work around it. In addition, Donte Smith is playing at a high level right now. Any time he spots up for a three, it’s surprising when it doesn’t go in. Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stepheson have done an excellent job of holding down the fort inside as well. The Mountain Hawks have a player listed at 7’1″, but he only plays nine minutes per game. For the other thirty minutes, the Trojans should be able to have their way inside.

Most of the Lehigh’s production comes from their guards. Three players average double figures, two of which are guards. C.J. McCollum averages 22 points per game and is the leading scorer. Between Maurice Jones, Jio Fontan, and Donte Smith, USC will need to shut down McCollum and force others to make plays.

The bottom line is that Lehigh isn’t a very good team. If the Trojans can go toe-to-toe with Kansas and beat Tennessee on the road, the Mountain Hawks shouldn’t present any trouble for USC. The potential for a let down is there, but Kevin O’Neill needs to make sure his team pulls out the victory. The Trojans at-large hopes are slim, and a loss to Lehigh not only set a bad tone for Pac-10 play, but also put a dagger in the notion of an at-large invite.