Washington Huskies Basketball: Previewing the USC Trojans

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday at 8:30 the Pac-12 Network will be hosting the matchup between the Washington Huskies and USC Trojans. We will take a look at the Men of Troy.

The USC Trojans are on a two-game winning streak. The Washington Huskies are on a two-game winning streak. Southern California is 10-6 at home. UW is 10-6 at home. Both teams are in relatively similar situations records-wise coming into their clash in Hec Edmundson Pavilion, with the Trojans having a better conference record and the Dawgs having a better overall winning percentage.

Leading USC in the interim after the firing of Kevin O'Neill is Bob Cantu, he has improved upon the 6-26 record of last season to playing .500 ball. Cantu does it by leading a fast-paced offense, second in the conference to the UCLA Bruins even when including early in the conference season, where O'Neill was head coach. While the offense is fast-paced, it isn't particularly effective, ranking just below average in both efficiency and points per possession. This is the exact opposite from last season, when the Trojans walked the ball up the court at any possible opportunity, having the slowest pace in the conference by a large margin.

Running the breakneck-paced offense is senior point guard Jio Fontan. Fontan assists on almost one-third of Trojan baskets when he is on the floor, which is second in the Pac-12. He is also top-10 in assist-to-turnover ratio, probably the most important statistic for a point guard. His ratio of 1.7:1 is better than any Washington player, with Abdul Gaddy and Andrew Andrews both logging a 1.4:1 ratio.

As a whole, USC turns the ball over on a fifth of their possessions, which is the same as Washington. The largest offender in this is Fontan, but with how often the ball is in his hands, and how many shots he creates for others it is more than acceptable for the Trojans. Both Washington and USC trail only the Oregon Ducks to lead in turnover rate, which is a bad thing. You don't want to be a leader in turnover rate. Call centers for large companies have high turnover rates because the jobs suck. Getting yelled at every day for eight hours can wear on a person, and thus the job of getting yelled at has a high turnover rate, imagine that.

Defensively, USC protects the rim better than any other team in the conference, blocking more shots than anyone else, which is helped by the fact that they have an extremely slow pace, allowing them to set up their defense. The bigger factor is personnel, obviously. the interior defense is anchored by a pair of 7 footers. Omar Oraby is a 7-2 junior who sends back a lot of shots. He and his paint-mate Dewayne Dedmon rank as the second and third-best shot blockers to Jordan Bachynski of Arizona State.

Neither of the two big men are large scoring threats, as the scoring load is shouldered by four other players. The leading scorer for USC is senior forward Eric Wise. Wise played three seasons as an Anteater at UC Irvine before sitting out last season to transfer to USC for his final collegiate season. Wise is a threat on the boards as well as scoring, and has the potential to dominate the glass, as he averaged over eight rebounds per game in his final season at UCI. He is a sharpshooter, hitting over 40% from deep, despite shooting under 70% from the free throw line.

JT Terrell is the inefficient chucker of the group, throwing up more shots than anyone on the team despite not hitting a particularly high percentage. As is the case with any of these "chuckers," if he gets hot, look out. He has the ability to burn you badly. Terrell doesn't do anything else on the stat sheet particularly well, but he does get shots up, that he does.

The aforementioned Fontan is one of the main scorers for USC as well, and the last of the leading scorers is do-it-all sophomore guard Byron Wesley. Wesley is a strong rebounder for a 6-5 guard, and is also a strong playmaker from the 2-guard slot. There is nothing that Wesley struggles at particularly, and is someone that will be all over the court all game long.

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