USC Vs. Arizona: Men’s Basketball Preview


Feb 23, 2013; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats guard Mark Lyons (2) forward Angelo Chol (30) and forward Solomon Hill (44) talk strategy during the second half against the Washington State Cougars at McKale Center. Arizona beat Washington Sate 73-56. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

USC Trojans vs. Arizona Wildcats

Galen Center | Los Angeles, CA6:30 PM Pacific | Pac-12 Network

After winning four straight games in early February, the Trojans have hit hard times losing their last two games to Cal and UCLA. To make matters worse, USC has failed to find any offensive rhythm in their last three halves of basketball.

Despite the scoring struggles, the Trojans have received quite the scoring lift from JT Terrell, who is beginning to embody the role of superstar for USC. Terrell has scored 17 points in each of his last two games, while shooting over 43 percent from the field in each.

Terrell may have found his groove from the field, but the other leading contributors on the season are losing their touch. Eric Wise has seen his points per game decline to under 12 in each of his last three games. Jio Fontan has been harassed offensively, only scoring four points on 2 of 11 shooting against UCLA.

Arizona has had no such trouble offensively as Xavier transfer and  starting point guard Mark Lyons is working on all cylinders. Lyons has scored in double figures in each of his past nine games since facing the Trojans on January 26th. The Wildcats have bounced back from a two-game slide and have now won three straight games, averaging 71 points in their winning streak.

In their last meeting, Arizona ran all over USC, winning the game by 24. The 74-50 final score did not properly address the one-sided disparity of talent on the court. USC could only muster 20 points in the first half, barely scoring seven points in the first 13 minutes of action. The slow-starting Trojans were led in scoring by Jio Fontan and Renaldo Woolridge with eight and nine points respectively.

In this mid-week matchup, the Wildcats and Trojans play similar styles of basketball. The Trojans have played faster under Bob Cantu, scoring 69 PPG; a vast improvement from last season. Arizona meanwhile averages 70 PPG, in large part due to their success on the fast break.

Solomon Hill and Nick Johson are explosive athletes that can finish at the rim. These two stars have supported Lyons in the scoring department, averaging 24 PPG as second-tier options in the offense. When Hill can dominate the paint with his athleticism, the Wildcats are nearly impossible to defend.

Luckily for the Trojans, Dewayne Dedmon has transformed his play on both ends of the court. In three out of his last four games Dedmon has shot over 57-percent from the field while grabbing at least eight boards. If USC wants to play the role of spolier, the seven-foot center will need to have a resounding impact in the paint.

USC (12-15, 7-7)

Arizona (23-4, 11-4)