Preseason Pac-10 favorite Washington represents an imposing challenge for a surging, but still inconsistent USC basketball team. Over the past five games, the Trojans have notched four wins, including victories over ranked opponents in Tennessee and Texas, but thus far in 2010, they have failed to string more than two consecutive wins. The Trojans hope history doesn't repeat itself against the visiting Huskies Wednesday, as they look to notch their third consecutive win for the first time this year and potentially their fifth straight at Galen Center.
But Washington is plenty capable of running 'SC off the court. Through eleven games, Lorenzo Romar's team is averaging 90.5 points per game, compared to USC's 69.1 - 187th nationally. However, when UW struggles, they do so mightily. In their three losses this season, vs. Kentucky (74-67), vs. Michigan State (76-71) and at Texas A&M (63-62), they've averaged just 66.67 points per game - more than a 20-point dropoff. That's significant, and 'SC's defense could pose a few issues.
A year ago, the Trojans swept the Huskies, including a 26-point win at Galen Center, and in eight games this season, have held opponents to 40% shooting or less.
But Washington's tempo will test a Trojan teams that ranks among the nation's best in defensive field goal percentage and points allowed per game. The Huskies like to push the ball, and with returning junior point guard Isaiah Thomas starting in the backcourt, USC's freshmen backcourt duo of Maurice Jones and Bryce Jones will be seriously challenged.
"It will be interesting to see how our younger guys react to their pressure," USC Coach Kevin O'Neill told Baxter Holmes of the Los Angeles Times. "If we don't control tempo, we don't win. We know that. I'm sure they're thinking the same thing."
Unlike a year ago, however, USC may have the offensive balance needed to content with an offensive juggernaut in Washington. Thus far, six of the players in USC's eight-man rotation have had a game with at least 15 points scored and the other two have games of at least 12 points. That production will be needed Wednesday night.
For more news and notes regarding USC basketball, check out SBN's Conquest Chronicles.