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Men's Basketball Preview: USC

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The first-place Washington Huskies seek another win on their tour of the LA schools when they visit the USC Trojans Saturday at noon at the Galen Center.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Huskies (14-6, 6-2) at USC Trojans (16-5, 5-3), Saturday, January 30th 12:00pm, Pac-12 Networks.

The Washington Huskies will seek to sweep the Southern California schools for the first time since 2011 when they meet USC at the Galen Center in Los Angeles Saturday at noon.

The Huskies hung on against the UCLA Bruins Thursday night after running out to an 18-point halftime lead.  Despite giving up the lead briefly to the Bruins late in the second half, clutch shots by Donaven Dorsey and free throws by Andrew Andrews put the Dawgs ahead for good.

The Trojans defeated the WSU Cougars on Thursday to move to 5-3 in the conference and 16-5 overall.  SC has an RPI of 22 and a strength of schedule of 39.  It also has a 12-game winning streak at the Galen Center.  No word if it's due to the termination of Petros Papadakis as its in-house PA announcer this season.

Coach Andy Enfield’s team is young, athletic, and a surprise team in the Pac-12.  Sound familiar?

Building on their game Thursday, the Huskies hope to continue with the pressure defense in the first half, hot 3-point shooting, and improve on fouls and turnovers. The Huskies will need to work on second half defense.  The Bruins scored 51 points in the second half to overcome a huge halftime deficit.

The Trojans had an easier time Thursday in an 81-71 over the Cougs.  Katin Reinhardt led the way with 18 points.

Projected Starting Five: G Jordan McLaughlin (So., 6-1, 170), G Julian Jacobs (Jr., 6-4, 180) G Katin Reinhardt (Jr., 6-6, 205), F Bennie Boatwright (Fr., 6-10, 220), F Nikola Jovanovic (Jr., 6-11, 230).

Key Bench Players: G Elijah Stewart (So., 6-5, 180), F Chimezie Metu (Fr., 6-11, 215), F Darion Clark (Jr., 6-7, 220), G Malik Marquetti (So., 6-6, 190), F Malik Martin (So., 6-11, 220).

The Huskies came back from a 22-point deficit to defeat the Trojans earlier this month 87-85 in Seattle.  Dejounte Murray played a big part in the comeback with his career high of 29 points.

USC is athletic, as they displayed during most of the UW/USC game on January 3rd.  You may recall Juju Jacobs putting Marquese Chriss on a poster.  Of course, Jacobs suffered an ankle injury during the second half and could not return.  Good thing, because Jacobs had 15 points in 18 minutes.  USC point guard Jordan McLaughlin added 15 points and center Nikoka Jovanovic gave the Dawgs problems too.  The 6-11 center had 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Enfield’s "Slam City" is producing a lot of dunks and the up and down athletic game should prove to be an entertaining matchup against the young Huskies.

USC is the second-highest scoring team in the Pac-12 next to the Huskies, so expect a score in the 80s. UW will need to continue its defensive pressure and hot shooting while making sure it prevents prolonged runs by the Trojans.  If the Dawgs can do that, they should be in prime position for a second win this week.

Coach Romar has called USC the best team the Huskies have played all year.  USC will be extra motivated for this game, as they believe they let one get away in Seattle.  The Trojans have been hot of lat,e so the Huskies will need to sustain a Trojan burst at the start of the game. This is where Andrew Andrews will be key.  He will need to be a calming influence on the young team.

Look for Andrew Andrews to right himself this game.  He had just 4 points in the first half against UCLA and struggled due in part to foul trouble.  He ended the game 3 of 10 shooting and just 12 points.  If Andrews can put up his season average and the Dawgs can stave off silly fouls and turnovers, they can escape LA with 2 wins this week.

Prediction:  Huskies 91, USC 88