What to Watch:
Defensive Energy - The last two games, from J.T. Terrell to Luis Gavrilovic, USC has displayed a new level of defensive intensity. The Trojans got after both of the Bay Area teams, holding Cal to 39 percent shooting and Stanford to 38 percent during regulation (before the Cardinal couldn't miss in overtime). Head coach Andy Enfield has mixed up the defenses this season, but against Stanford, USC used a full-court trap to speed up the Cardinal. Enfield said using the defense in the future would depend on game-to-game matchups, but it's something the players seemed to enjoy and produced solid defensive results.
Rollin' Robbie - Senior guard Roberto Nelson is angling for first team All-Pac-12 honors this season. Nelson leads the conference scoring 22.2 points per game this season, including three 30+ point performances. He has scored in double figures in 35 of the last 36 games with the aberration being when he was ejected for a flagrant 2 foul in December. He has gone for 20+ points on 13 occasions this season, including in each of the last five contests.
Approaching 1K - With his final two points Sunday afternoon against Stanford, Byron Wesley surpassed his point total from last season. A consistent, but unimposing scorer his first two seasons, Wesley has still managed to tally more than 300 points all three years at USC. If he produces a monster game against Oregon State, Wesley could become the 35th member of the USC Trojan 1,000-point club. Currently 37 points shy, it is more likely the junior guard will hit the mark at Oregon on Saturday or next weekend when the Trojans host UCLA.
The Three is Key - Oregon State has made a Pac-12 leading 52 three-point field goals in conference play. USC is on the other end of the spectrum, shooting with blurred vision from all the dust of the Pac-12 basement, with a league-low 27. Three Beavers are among the top six Pac-12 long-range shooters in conference play. Langston Morris-Walker leads the conference shooting 69 percent on 13 attempts while Hallice Cooke and Nelson have combined to shoot above 50 percent on 63 attempts. USC is 7-3 when it makes five or more 3-pointers and 8-1 when shooting better than 33 percent.
Welcome to My Block Party - Expect Omar Oraby to swat someone's shot Thursday. It's just what he does. Oraby has at least one block every game this season, accumulating 49 so far. He is one block shy of tying Rod Keller (1987) for seventh on USC's single season block list. The 7'2" Egyptian big man also is creeping closer to the triple-digit career mark. Oraby already is in eighth place on USC's career block list after passing Nikola Vucevic, but he needs just four more rejections to reach the 100-block club and five to tie Avondre Jones (1994, 96) for seventh place.
Friendly Confines - Oregon State has been in the lower half of the Pac-12 standings for seemingly forever. The Beavers haven't finished above .500 in conference play since 1989-90. But they are a completely different team at home than on the road. The Beavers are off to an 8-2 start at home this year and have finished above .500 in conference play three of the last four years. Post players Angus Brandt and Eric Moreland have big discrepancies in their home/road splits, but it's at home they are at their best.
Finding the Shooting Stroke - J.T. Terrell was the Trojans' leading returning scorer this year and really blossomed at the end of last season under interim head coach Bob Cantu's free-flowing style, leading many to believe he would excel under Andy Enfield. That hasn't exactly been the case thus far. Terrell scored 20 in the season opener at Utah State, but ran into academic issues, not getting back in USC's full rotation for more than a month and a half. Even when he returned, Terrell's shooting was rusty.
In the last four games, the senior from Burlington, NC seems to be getting back to being the guy who led the Pac-12 in conference play with 2.47 three-point field goals made per game last season. He is 15 for his last 33 (46 percent) and has made half of his 3-pointers (8-of-16).
Presidential - Yes, Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson is the brother-in-law of the President of the United States. He is the older brother of Michelle Obama. Do we care? No. Not unless Barack is coming to the Galen Center when the Beavers come to USC next month and we have to go through 47 security checks like last time he came to USC's campus in 2011.
Jan. 19 - USC 69-68 (@ Galen Center). Senior forward Aaron Fuller scored only one basket for USC, but he picked an opportune time for that basket -- with 6 seconds remaining for the game-winner. J.T. Terrell found Fuller with a dish in the paint and then made a big defensive play slapping the ball away to help keep the Beavers from getting a final shot to the rim.
Byron Wesley scored 19 points, including 12 in the first half, and Eric Wise finished with 18 points to help former USC assistant and interim head coach Bob Cantu get his first career win.
Where to Watch:
Game Time, TV channel: 6:00 p.m. PST, Pac-12 Networks (JB Long, Lamar Hurd)
Radio: USC: ESPN 710 AM (Chris Fisher, Brandon Granville); Oregon State: Beaver Radio Sports Network (Mike Parker)
Odds & More:
Odds and Wagers: Latest Odds: USC +9.5/Oregon State -9.5, Over/Under N/A
USC has outdunked its opponents 54 to 28 this season, according to ESPN's play-by-play logs (missed alley-oop passes are not included, only clanked jams). Here are the top Trojans that have thrown down this year:
- Omar Oraby - 19 slams/20 dunk attempts
- Julian Jacobs - 16/20
- Byron Wesley - 7/7
- D.J. Haley - 4/4
- J.T. Terrell - 4/6
- Nikola Jovanovic - 2/2
- Roschon Prince - 2/4
- Strahinja Gavrilovic - 0/1
- Breakdown: Trojans Can't Control Chasson Randle in OT
- Photo Gallery/Recap - USC Rallies Late, Falls in Overtime to Stanford
- Preview - USC Hoops vs. Stanford: What to Watch
Projected Starting Lineups: