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USC Basketball

PREVIEW: USC prepares to go for 2nd straight win against Utah in L.A.

February 5, 2019

Having split their contests with the two Pac-12 Washington teams, USC will now turn its attention to the Utah Utes, who they face Wednseday night at the Galen Center. This is a huge matchup for both teams as only one game separates the 2nd place Trojans (13-9,6-3) and the 5th place Utes (11-10,5-4) in the conference standings.

Utah, who comes in at 11-10, has struggled with the same teams as the Trojans have. Utah’s four conference losses came to Oregon, Oregon State, Arizona, and Washington. Of those teams, USC has only beaten Arizona, an 80-57 rout two weeks ago. Both teams have also been defeated by #6 Nevada, who defeated USC 73-61 before beating Utah a few weeks later 86-71.

Last season, USC swept both matchups against Utah, but many of the heavy lifters for the Trojans in those matchups are now gone. Jordan McLaughlin, Chimezie Metu, and Elijah Stewart have all taken their talents to the NBA, and Jordan Usher, who led USC with 14 points in the 2nd matchup, recently transferred to Georgia Tech. 

Utah relies on senior guard Sedrick Barefield, a graduate of nearby Corona Centennial High School for much of its offensive production. The Southern California product averages 16 points, 4 assists, and 2 rebounds. Alongside him, true freshman Timmy Allen has also come along nicely in his first season of college basketball. Allen, who once starred for USC assistant coach Eric Mobley’s AAU team, the Compton Magic, is averaging 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists per contest this season.

USC excels when it takes care of the basketball, and it showed in their most recent road trip. Against Washington, they had 13 assists and 18 turnovers whereas against Washigton State they had 19 assists to just 14 turnovers. In order to defeat a scrappy Utah team, Derryck Thornton and the rest of the Trojans will need to control the pace and turnover margin. 

Nick Rakocevic will also have to win his matchup against Utah’s starting center Jayce Johnson, a 7-footer who shoots nearly 60% from the field and averages 7 rebounds in just 19 minutes per-game.

The game will be broadcasted on the Pac-12 Network at 8:00PST on Wednseday.

Tags: Basketball
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