The USC Trojans march into Tucson tomorrow night to take on the Wildcats at McKale Center at 7:30 p.m. MST. The Trojans are led by Junior Guard Dwight Lewis who is averaging 15.5 ppg. Taj Gipson, is a 6'9" Forward who averages a double double per game with 14.3 ppg. and 10 rebounds. Last time these two met, USC edged out the Cats 65-64 after Jamelle Horne fouled Daniel Hackett with 1.2 seconds left IN A TIE GAME. Taj Gipson had 13 points and Dwight Lewis had 21.
Since the Arizona game, USC (15-7) has gone 3-2, losing at Washington and getting killed at Pauley Pavillion by UCLA 76-70. The key to the Arizona game for USC is to keep Taj Gipson out of foul trouble. Last game, Hill won the battle down low with 19 points and 7 boards while Gipson had 13 points and 8 boards. This is the battle to watch tomorrow night.
USC is 4-5 on the road this year, and four of those wins came at lowly Oregon and a 2 point win over Washington. Here are the Trojans stats so far:
The Cats are on a roll. We have won 5 in a row, surging ahead to what was an afterthought a year ago, and has become the goal of the Arizona basketball team, since midseason, making the Big Dance. Chase Budinger has been absolutely ridiculous since the Houston game. He is averaging 20.2 ppg in the last 5 games. Jordan Hill, although a homer of a view, has got to be the Pac-10 player of the year. He is averaging a double, double and is a monster in the paint for the Cats.
As always, the Cats will need Jordan Hill to minimize Taj Gipson and stay out of foul trouble. As we have discussed over the past three weeks, we have no bench. Getting into foul trouble would be a disaster for our team. I am surprised that other teams haven't just force fed the post to try and make Jordan take swipes and get whistled. Onobun, Lavender, Jacobson, and Judkins have been non-factors all season long.
Keys to the Game:
- Size Matters. Small size that is. This is a great article written in the L.A. Times about USC not being able to handle smaller guards because their own guards are too big. USC's guards are Daniel Hackett and Dwight Lewis. Both are 6-5. Let's hope that Nic can get his season average assists to 5.0. He is currently at 4.8.
Size Matters X2. Large size that is. Jordan Hill must contain Taj Gipson (who is playing with a dislocated finger and is still causing him a lot of pain), while staying out of foul trouble. Jordan's offense has not been as crucial to our game plan in the last 5 games with the surge in offensive production of Chase. Defense is key for the big man while Chase is hot.
- Focus. This may be a little silly, but I think that Arizona feels like they are "supposed" to win this game. We shouldn't have lost at USC like we did last time, that's for sure. A home game, with a streaking Cats squad, looking ahead to UCLA on Saturday could be a recipe for disaster. I hope Pennell can get them focused on this one. This is the kind of stuff that Lute never let happen. Let's hope we are "all there" on Thursday.