With tipoff against Oregon State on the hardwood scheduled for 7:30 p.m. PST, here's a quick Q&A with Connor Pelton of SB Nation's Oregon State blog Building The Dam.
Q: Who, on the Oregon State roster, should USC keep an eye on? Normally, 'SC plays pretty good defense, but is there anybody in particular they should be concerned about?
A: I'd say mainly watch out for Joe Burton. He loves his new role coming off the bench, and after a tough non-conference, he's averaging 11 ppg in Pac-10 play.
Q: Judging by the results this season, OSU has looked pretty inconsistent, losing to Seattle and Utah Valley, but were big winners over Arizona State. What's proved to be most problematic for the Beavers?
A: The main reason is coaching. There is no reason that the Beavers should play like they did against Seattle and Utah Valley, other than the fact that Craig Robinson did not get them ready to play.
Q: USC struggles mightily against the zone defense? Normally, what kid of defensive sets does OSU lean on? Last year, they often switched to a 1-3-1 zone against 'SC and were quite successful.
A: They will play a 2-3 zone most of the game, but like to switch to the 1-3-1 when they have some momentum. The 1-3-1 trap is perfect for defenders like Omari Johnson and Jared Cunningham, both of which are superb at it. The only problem is that we get burned by backdoor cuts on it a lot, so that's why we don't go with it all game. The 2-3 is perfect for teams that struggle from behind the three point line. In Oregon State's losses in OOC play, each of those teams had players that could light it up from three point range. But when teams struggle like the Arizona schools, then the Beavers usually win.
A: We usually rely on Joe Burton and Kevin McShane for defending the post. They are good defenders, but they lack size.
Q: Lastly, a year ago, the Kevin O'Neill-coached Trojans went 0-2 against Oregon State. If that trend is to continue, what do you anticipate happening Saturday night?
A: I think the Trojans escape Corvallis with a win. Our zone defenses should cause some havoc, but in the end Stephenson and Vucevic should be just too tough to handle down low. It will be a good game, and should go down to the wire, but I am very impressed with the Trojans after their games against Kansas, Tennessee, and the Washington schools. Prediction: USC-70, Oregon State-67