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#20 USC Trojans Game Preview & How to Watch

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Washington returns home after getting swept in Oregon

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 14 Washington at USC Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Essentials

Date: Thursday, 2/11/21

Tip-Off Time: 7:00 pm PT

TV: Pac-12 Networks

Radio: KJR 950 AM/KVI 570

Streaming: Pac-12.com/live

Location: Seattle, Washington

Betting line: Washington +11

USC Trojans 2020-21 Statistics:

Record: 15-3 (3-1)

Points For per Game: 75.7 ppg (64th)

Points Against per Game: 63.7 ppg (32nd)

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 112.7 (25th)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 89.9 (14th)

Strength of Schedule: 74th

USC Key Players:

C- Evan Mobley, Fr. 7’0, 215: 16.3 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 2.9 bpg, 58.3% FG, 30.4% 3pt, 72.0% FT

Mobley has lived up to his billing as a top-3 freshman in the country and has been essentially a better shot blocking version of Isaiah Stewart from last year. He’s shooting a ridiculous 68% in the paint but is also capable of hitting a midrange jumper or even occasionally stretch beyond the 3-pt line. Expect him to dominate UW inside all game. Last game against the Huskies he had 17 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks.

G- Tahj Eaddy, Sr. 6’2, 165: 12.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.6 apg, 44.6% FG, 35.6% 3pt, 77.8% FT

The grad transfer from Santa Clara has stepped in and made an immediate impact as USC’s second leading scorer and de facto point guard with starter Ethan Anderson out for 50% of the season so far due to injury. He’s a guard without any glaring weaknesses but also without any clear phenomenal traits. But if the game is somehow close in the closing minutes the ball will be in Eaddy’s hands. Last game against the Huskies he had 10 points, 3 assists, and 2 steals.

G- Drew Peterson, Jr. 6’8, 195: 9.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.3 apg, 42.3% FG, 38.0% 3pt, 72.5% FT

Perhaps more surprising than Eaddy’s performance has been Peterson who transferred in from Rice and also has taken on primary ball handler responsibilities at 6’8. He was shooting 46% from 3-pt range when these teams played last month but that has cooled down to 38% which is closer to his career average. Think a poor man’s Kyle Anderson. Last game against the Huskies he had 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists.

F- Isaiah Mobley, So. 6’10, 235: 9.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.8 apg, 46.2% FG, 25.0% 3pt, 45.3% FT

Isaiah is essentially the poor man’s version of his younger brother. He’s just as good a rebounder but isn’t quite an offensive savant like Evan. When they played last month Isaiah often played in the high post and showed off surprising passing skill with a 2-man high/low game with his brother. Last game against the Huskies he had 18 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists. Those 4 assists tied a career high.

G- Ethan Anderson, Jr. 6’1, 215: 6.8 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 2.3 apg, 41.1% FG, 50.0% 3pt, 81.8% FT

Anderson missed a good chunk of the season due to injury but is back and the Trojans are 6-1 since his return. Part of that is Anderson has been on fire with his shooting and that 50% 3-pt percentage is certainly going to come down over time. Last game against the Huskies was his return from injury and he had 3 points and 2 assists in just 14 minutes as he was eased into things.

USC 2020-21 Shot Chart

Synergy Sports

The Outlook

Washington’s first matchup against USC didn’t provide a lot of hope for the rematch even if now it’s in Seattle. The Trojans scored 1.32 points per possession in that game despite the fact that none of their starters played more than 27 minutes. USC hardly noticed that the Husky defenders were there and even when the Trojans missed a shot they got the rebound on 44% of those miscues.

If the Huskies want to even keep it close let alone spring the upset then goal number one is figuring out how to slow down the mega-sized USC lineup. The Trojans are the 2nd tallest team in the country and that means that Washington’s undersized zone has been and likely will be again helpless to stop USC.

That first game against the Trojans was the first time (per Synergy Sports) that the Huskies played at least 20 half court possessions of man-to-man defense rather than zone. Could that potentially help Washington slow down USC? Unlikely. The Huskies are literally last in the entire country in points per possession when playing man defense at 1.045. That’s just behind Mississippi Valley State and Chicago State. For better or worse Washington has to stick with their zone and hope it works.

Last time around USC put one of the Mobley brothers at the free throw line and they showed off their impressive brotherly chemistry with a series of alley-oops and easy baskets. Expect more of the same with Washington needing to make an adjustment to stay with whichever Mobley is still in the dunker spot along the baseline. USC was 2/7 on midrange jumpers and 22/34 in the paint. They Dawgs have to do whatever they can to keep USC out of the paint but it’s likely a fruitless endeavor.

USC’s elite size has helped them to have the 4th best 2-pt defense in the country. Washington doesn’t rely on Nate Roberts and Riley Sorn to score very much inside but they won’t have many opportunities anyways. Last time around the Huskies shot 39% from 3-pt range and still lost by nearly 30 points. It’s painful to watch a chuck and pray offense but that may actually be the best chance for Washington given USC’s amazing interior defense.

The Trojans are now the best team in the Pac-12 per most of the advanced metrics and they’re also on paper a terrible matchup for the Huskies. So...

Prediction

Washington Huskies- 67, USC Trojans- 89

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