USC vs. Stanford: Men’s Basketball Preview


Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

USC Trojans vs. Stanford Cardinal

Maples Pavillion | Palo Alto, CA8:00 PM Pacific | ESPNU

The USC Trojans are heading up the 101 Freeway to square off with the rival Stanford Cardinal in a crucial game in terms of the overall Pac-12 Standings. USC and Stanford are surprisingly both 6-5 in the conference, looking to break out of a three-team log jam for fifth place.

The Cardinal are coming off an impressive road split in Arizona, were within minutes of defeating the Wildcats, and have won three out of the last four game. Meanwhile, the Trojans are riding a season-high three-game winning streak. USC came from behind against Washington State then followed up that sloppy performance by dominating Washington by 11 points.

When these teams met back on January 3rd, the Trojans pulled off a come-from-behind victory on a game-winning shot by Jio Fontan with under four seconds to play. In that matchup, Fontan and Chass Bryan played their best basketball, combining for 25 points. Not only did they score, but they did not allow Chasson Randle to score.

The Stanford bench came to play at the Galen Center, posting 43 of Stanford’s 69 points, and the two cogs behind the charge –Aaron Bright and Andy Brown– are now starting for the Cardinal. In the first meeting, the Stanford big-men dominated the stat sheet especially on the offensive glass. Fast forward nearly two months, and both teams are much more formidable on both ends of the floor.

The Cardinal live and die in the paint with Josh Huestis and Dwight Powell, as Powell is averaging a team-high 15.1 PPG, while Huestis is averaging close to a double double every night. Those two will present Dewayne Dedmon and Eric Wise some matchup issues as they can outscore and rebound Trojans’ front court.

For USC to succeed, they will need to continue their formula of success from the last game against Washington: take and make big shots.

Tonight’s X-factor is Aaron Bright. The Stanford point guard played over 30 minutes coming off the bench last time these teams met and was very effective. What makes him extremely dangerous is that he can penetrate the defense and dish to lethal three-point shooters.

Stanford shoots the highest amount of three-pointers in the conference and will not be afraid to fire away making an incredible 45-percent of their deep shots in conference play. The Cardinal went 9-19 from downtown last meeting, a major sign of concern for the Trojans who own the worst ranked three-point shooting defense in the conference.

Overall, the Cardinal bring size, balance, and a great deal toughness to the basketball game. This will make for an intriguing matchup between them and the quicker and more athletic Trojans. USC will have success by playing up-tempo basketball, and expect the game to rest on the shoulders of Jio Fontan to properly distribute the basketball and make big defensive stands.

Projected Starting Lineups