What to Watch:
Pe'Shon at Point - Senior Pe'Shon Howard, a transfer from Maryland, has yet to see his role be solidified for the USC basketball squad. He's been at the point, on the wing and several variations of a combo guard role. When J.T. Terrell was academically ineligible, Howard filled the role of primary outside shooter, averaging 15.4 points per game in seven games from Nov. 28 to Dec. 22. He then went on a four-game stretch that saw him score only 13 points.
But last game, USC head coach Andy Enfield sat Julian Jacobs, who had been the team's primary point guard, and turned the reins over to Howard. The offense looked completely different with Howard running the show. He distributed the ball and was able to get the post players involved early. Though he didn't shoot well, Howard made sure the offense ran smoothly, dishing out 10 assists to go with 12 points and 6 rebounds. The Trojans are now unbeaten (5-0) when he has five or more assists.
SoCal Struggles - After losing 91-74 to UCLA on Thursday, the Cardinal has now lost 16 of its last 17 games on the annual Southern California road trip. Stanford's lone win came two years ago when it played USC's injury-decimated 2011-12 squad that won only one conference game.
Byron's Battle - Byron Wesley will likely get the unenviable honor of having Josh Huestis chasing him around everywhere. Huestis is a premier defender -- one of the best in the country. He uses his 6'7" frame and lengthy wingspan to invade offensive players' personal space. He is quick enough to stick with shifty guards and big enough to handle post players on a switch. Huestis is only 11 blocks away from becoming Stanford's all-time leading shot swatter.
Wesley leads USC with 16.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, but he has shot just 13-for-36 in the last three games. Prior to that, he had scored 18+ points in six of seven games. The Trojans have shown they need multiple players to produce offensively and Wesley needs to be one of those guys. If Huestis is able to negate Wesley, it could be a long afternoon for USC.
Containing Chasson - Against USC, Chasson Randle has struggled shooting 38 percent in his career against the Trojans, including his only scoreless game in college. But Randle has taken his game to a new level this season, scoring 19.2 points (up more than five and a half points from last season). He has also improved his three-point shooting from 35.9 percent to 40 percent this season and has already reached the free throw line as many times as he did all last year. Randle has reached 20 points eight times this season and has gone for 30+ three times.
As the point guard, Randle is also charged with getting his teammates involved. But Randle averages only 2.3 assists per game. Will the Trojans try to force Randle to beat them single-handedly and take away the other Cardinal? Or will USC try to get the ball out of Randle's hands early with aggressive defensive traps and hedging and make the remaining Cardinal beat the Trojans?
Jovano-catalyst - As Nikola Jovanovic goes, so goes USC basketball. When the Serbian freshman plays well, the Trojans play well. The Trojans are now 8-1 when he scores in double figures and 2-8 when he doesn't. After starting conference play averaging 4.8 points and 3.7 rebounds during USC's five-game losing streak, Jovanovic had the best game of his young collegiate career on Wednesday. He scored a career-high 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting and knocked down all seven of his free throw attempts to help USC beat Cal.
Much as he does to opposing big men, Jovanovic will be challenged on the perimeter against Stanford with Dwight Powell and John Gage both having the ability to step behind the three-point line and shoot the deep ball. Powell is one of the best passing big men in the country, averaging a team-high 4.0 assists per game while Gage is a 50 percent shooter from three-point range and has made 10 of his last 15 long-distance attempts.
Check the Kicks - Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins and his staff will be rocking sneakers with their suits. The Stanford coaches are participating in the Suits and Sneakers Weekend, an annual event coordinated by the Coaches vs. Cancer program, a collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
Jan. 3 - USC 71-69 (@ Galen Center). Jio Fontan knocked down four late free throws, including a pair with 6.9 seconds left to give USC a win in its conference opener. Fontan also shut down Chasson Randle, holding him scoreless for the only time in his career at Stanford.
Feb. 14 - USC 65-64 (@ Stanford). Eric Wise missed a pair of free throws with 18 seconds remaining, giving Stanford a chance to win a game it had trailed by as many as 14 points. But Randle missed a 3-pointer in the final two seconds to give the Trojans the season sweep of the Cardinal.
Where to Watch:
Game Time, TV channel: 2:00 p.m. PST, Pac-12 Networks (Ted Robinson, Don MacLean)
Radio: USC: ESPN 830 AM (Chris Fisher, Brandon Granville); Stanford: 1050 KNBR AM (Scott Reiss, John Platz); KZSU 90.1 FM (Rory Berry)
Odds & More:
Odds and Wagers: Latest Odds: Stanford -7/USC +7, Over/Under 146.5
- Breakdown - Jovanovic Career High Leads Trojans
- Recap/Gallery - USC Basketball Snaps Losing Streak
- Know Thy Enemy - Cal Golden Bears Q&A Preview
- Preview - USC Hoops vs. Cal: What to Watch
Projected Starting Lineups: