USC vs. Washington: Basketball Preview


Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

USC Trojans vs. Washington Huskies

Galen Center | Los Angeles

Sunday, February 10th, 7:00 PM Pacific | FSN

If you took a poll before the season asking whether or not people would believe that USC and Washington would be tied in the Pac-12 standings in mid-February, you’d get a resounding ‘no’ to tip the scales. Yet, here we sit, on February 9th, just more than halfway through the Pac-12 season, and both the Trojans and Huskies are in a logjam with a host of other teams with a 5-5 record.

The Trojans have surged after removing Kevin O’Neill last month, though a 3-3 record doesn’t exactly show that as a surge. Under Bob Cantu, the Trojans have narrow late losses to the Oregon Ducks, and Arizona State Sun Devils, in addition to the biggest win of the year last week at Pauley Pavilion.

With Cantu at the helm, the Trojans are playing with more energy and USC’s deep bench has created one of the most self-less squads in recent memory. Eric Wise leads the Trojans in scoring, but Byron Wesley was the star on Thursday against Washington State, while it was Aaron Fuller against the Bruins last week.

Lorenzo Romar’s Washington Huskies come into the game losers of five of their last six, including underachieving losses to Utah and Oregon State back January.

C.J. Wilcox leads the way offensively for Washington, as he sits fourth in the conference scoring at 18.1 points per game. A streaky, yet deadly shooter when he’s on, Wilcox has the ability to string together points quickly, which has to concern Bob Cantu and the Trojans.

USC has struggled to contain the league’s top perimeter scorers so far, giving up 27 to Cal’s Allen Crabbe, 22 to UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad and 21 to Arizona State’s Jahii Carson. Needless to say, that bodes well for Wilcox.

Much like the Trojans however, the Huskies’ Achilles heel is their propensity to commit turnovers. In their last-second loss to UCLA on Thursday night, Washington turned it over a whopping 19 times, creating what was one of the sloppier games of the Pac-12 season to date.

For both teams on Sunday night, it starts at the point with their senior captains, with Jio Fontan squaring up with Abdul Gaddy. Fontan has carried the Trojans at times with his play, in addition to struggling with turnovers.

With Gaddy, it’s all about the turnovers. He coughed up the rock six times against Arizona, and has given Romar reason to consider swapping him out for Andrew Andrews. Yet, just like Fontan, Gaddy’s three-point shooting gives the Huskies a tiered shooting threat along with C.J. Wilcox.

The Trojans and Huskies tip Sunday night at 7 p.m. at the Galen Center.

Projected Starting Lineups