The Huskies try to hold on to their first-place status tonight as they face the struggling Trojans of USC. The Trojans fought hard to sneak past Utah for the “worst team in the conference” title, coming into this game having lost 10 of 11 and sitting at 1-9 in conference play. Washington has won seven of eight and look to cap off their second-to-last home stand of the year with a win.
8 p.m. PST. ROOT. Alaska Airlines Arena.
Washington Huskies (15-7; 8-2) USC Trojans (6-17; 1-9)
*Gametime decision--if Wroten can't go, expect C.J. WilcoxMORE AFTER THE JUMP!
Breaking Down USC
The Trojans have been in absolute free-fall this season, finding themselves not just at the bottom of the conference standings, but ranking last in points per game, field goal percentage, assists, rebounding and three point percentage.
Maurice Jones and Garrett Jackson carry this offense, if by carry one means drag along slowly, with 14.2 points per game from Jones and Jackson averaging 12.8 points in his last four outings. Jackson recently became a starter with the devastating loss of 7-footer Dewayne Dedmon. Despite Jones leading the team in scoring, he’s shooting just 34.9% from the field, taking nearly 14 shots a game.
Kevin O’Neill’s squad has resorted to a snails pace on offense to make up for their lack of weapons. The Trojans are scoring just 54.3 points per game, however they have only given up more than 66 points twice the entire season. That said, they have scored more than 66 points once this year. To put this all in perspective, Washington has scored less than 66 points twice. What I’m trying to say is USC’s offense is abysmal.
Keys To The Game and Things To Watch
Pace: USC will not run with the ball. The Huskies should be able to control the pace against a weak Trojan team, though we said the same thing against Utah and squeaked out a 57-53 win. This is the biggest factor in this game and will decide the outcome.
Tony Wroten’s Status: Washington’s standout freshman guard came up limping on multiple occasions against UCLA on Thursday and his status for the game tonight is unsure. Romar believes he will play, saying, “Tony is a warrior and he’ll find a way to play”.
UW Without Tony: Doug Gottleib tweeted following the UCLA game, saying that he believes the Huskies are better when Wroten is not on the floor. It will be interesting to see how the Dawgs fare if Wroten does not receive significant playing time. UW has not been able to blow any teams out of the water in conference play and many believe their inconsistencies stem from Wroten’s presence and ego on the court.
Abdul Gaddy: Look for USC to put 5’7 Maurice Jones on Gaddy throughout the game. Gaddy has eight inches on Jones and should be able to exploit him start to finish on the offensive end. Abdul can certainly regain some offensive confidence tonight if he wants to. The key is his desire to score and his confidence level following a horrendous outing against UCLA.
USC truly has no effective offense players and try to mask this by walking the ball up the court for forty minutes. The Huskies are too explosive to contain for an entire game and they have grown exponentially since the nail-biter against Utah, their last slow paced game against an inferior opponent.
The Trojans keep the score low at the beginning of the game, but the Huskies flex their muscles late in the first half and early in the second, running away with a 70-52 win.
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