Date: Saturday 3/4/2017
Tip-Off Time: 3:30 PST
TV: Pac-12 Network
Radio: Komo 1000
Record: 22-8 (9-8)
Points For per Game: 79 ppg (46th)
Points Against per Game: 73.6 ppg (201st)
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 113.1 (44th)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 101.4 (101st)
USC Key Players:
C- Chimezie Metu, So. 6-11, 225: 14.3ppg, 7.7rpg, 1.4apg, 54.4% FG, 72% FT
Metu has gotten the opportunity for increased playing time and has greatly taken advantage. He's one of the premier shot blockers in the conference and has improved his rebounding ability. Every time UW drives to the rim they'll have to account for him.
F- Bennie Boatwright, So. 6-10, 230: 15.4ppg, 4.5rpg, 1.9apg, 42.3% FG, 92.6% FT, 37.8% 3pt
Boatwright has been the Trojans best player since returning in the game against UW from an injury which cost him 15 games. He is perhaps a slightly worse version of what Marquese Chriss would have been had he returned for his sophomore season. He is capable of taking over a game from the inside and outside as evidenced by his 23 points in 21 minutes against the Dawgs including a couple of 3's and 7 free throws.
G- Elijah Stewart, Jr. 6-5, 190: 12.9ppg, 4.3rpg, 1.3apg, 43.1% FG, 72.6% FT, 38.2% 3pt
Stewart may be one of the more underrated players in the conference. He is an elite shot blocker and rebounder for his size and is also a great shooter. Expect Matisse to match up with Stewart provided the Dawgs play more man-to-man than they did on Sunday.
G- De'Anthony Melton, Fr. 6-4, 190: 9.0ppg, 5.1rpg, 3.4apg, 44.8% FG, 71.1% FT, 31.3% 3pt
Melton is a defensive terror as a freshman for the Trojans, averaging three combined steals and blocks per game while only playing 28 minutes per game (Fultz averages 2.9 combined per game playing 36 mpg). He's not overly involved in the offense but can occasionally hurt you there as well.
G- Jordan McLaughlin, Sr. 6-1, 180: 12.7ppg, 3.4rpg, 5.3apg, 45.4% FG, 80.6% FT, 41.7% 3pt
McLaughlin doesn't really have a hole in his game as he's an above average shooter and passer and decent enough rebounder and defender for his size. He's not a ball-dominant point guard and is very willing to pass up a shot to get his teammate a better look.
The first half of the game against USC in Seattle is perhaps the best half of basketball that UW played the entire season. They led by 10 points at the break and appeared to be putting together a complete effort and their win probability reached 80%. Alas, as Chinua Achebe once wrote, Things Fall Apart. The Trojans almost immediately made a big run and three minutes later it was back to 50/50.
Once again though, past performance is not much of an indicator of future performance because Markelle Fultz was healthy for the last game against the Trojans. In their 4 games without Fultz, the Huskies have lost by an average of 20 points and there's no reason to think that things will be any different in this match-up.
Just like was the case against TCU this season, the USC game will be the 1st in back-to-back contests between the two schools. No matter the outcome of tonight's game, UW will play USC at 8:30p on Wednesday night in the #6 vs #11 battle in the 1st round of the Pac-12 Tournament. In some situations, that might mean that USC will rest starters for longer but USC is on the bubble for their NCAA tournament lives and a loss at home to Washington sadly will kill any bubble team's resume. The Dawgs can expect the Trojans' best shot and it's almost certainly better than Washington's best even if Fultz were healthy.
Expect Romar to give playing time to the guys who are competing regardless of how the game is going. While ending the losing streak would be nice, a win tonight against USC isn't going to change anyone's opinion of this season. This game is a chance to see how guys like Crisp, Dickerson, Thybulle, Timmins, and Johnson continue to adjust without a go-to-guy on the court alongside them.