USC Basketball Game Preview: Stanford Cardinal


USC Trojans (14-12, 6-7) at Stanford Cardinal (13-12, 6-8)

Head Coach: Johnny Dawkins (Year 2: 37-38)

Conference: Pac-10

Stars: G Jeremy Green, F Josh Owens

Location: Palo Alto, CA (Maples Pavilion)

Time: 7:30 PM (PDT)

TV: Fox Sports West

Radio: 710 AM

Matchup: USC looks for its first sweep in the Bay Area in 19 years as they play at Stanford tonight. The Trojans are coming off of an impressive performance over Cal where they built a big lead early and held on for the victory. Kevin O’Neill changed the lineup by starting Donte Smith and bringing Maurice Jones off the bench, and the move brought new energy to the squad. Jones turned in 22 off the bench and USC played some of its most inspired basketball this season.

Stanford hosts USC after a 69-65 loss to UCLA. The Cardinal have lost 7 of their last 10 since upsetting Washington. Dawkins’ club is much better at home than on the road, and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

USC’s offense must follow the strategy they used against Cal. Guards Jio Fontan and Donte Smith aggressively charged into the teeth of the zone defense and caused it to collapse. The Bears converged on the guard, and it left the big men open inside as well as shooters out beyond the arc. Maurice Jones nailed five three-pointers mainly because he was wide open. As a result of the intensity on offense, USC got quality shots and shot 47.4% from the floor and 8-13 from beyond the arc. Above all, USC needs to play with energy and a sense of urgency. When you play in a big time conference like the Pac-10, not playing with urgency, especially when you aren’t one of the elite teams, will hurt you.

Stanford runs a 10-man rotation and sometimes goes 11 deep. This will pose a problem late in the game, when USC’s 7-man rotation has already logged heavy minutes. For the most part, Stanford’s offense relies on two players. Out of the backcourt, Jeremy Green runs the team and is the leading scorer. He averages 16.1 points per game in over 30 minutes of action. The junior is the go-to scorer for the Cardinal, and he shoots 40.6% . Marcus Simmons is a shutdown defender, and if he can handle Green, the Cardinal will be hard pressed to score points. Green only managed 5 points in the first meeting. Inside, Josh Owens is the man of concern for USC. He shoots a startling 58.6% and grabs 6.7 rebounds a game. Owens has the potential to wreak havoc.  If Owens grabs offensive rebounds, he will have great chances to create points and lead Stanford to victory. Last time these two teams played, Stanford managed 31 points in the first 38 minutes of play and turned in the worst shooting performance by a Cardinal team in the shot clock era.