USC vs. #18 Southern Illinois - Game Preview
When: Sunday, Nov. 25 @ 8:00 PM (PST)
Where: The Arena at the Anaheim Convention Center (Anaheim, CA)
Nice win against a solid Miami (OH) team. SC will face their first true test of the season tonight against the Salukis of Southern Illinois. SIU was a Sweet Sixteen team last season (they lost to Kansas by 3) and return 3 starters in Senior forward Randal Falker (6-7, 230), Junior guard Bryan Mullins (6-1, 185), and Junior forward Tony Boyle (6-8, 230). The clear strength of this team is in their team defense; they are as disciplined as they come in terms of positioning and use their defense to control the rhythm of the game. There were countless amount of times last season where I watched SIU literally lull their opponent to death by repeatedly forcing one shot possessions and then slowly walking the ball up court and using the entire shot clock to run a set. This is a composed squad that thrives on teams that rely on momentum to get their game going.
SC will need to do the little things to win this game. For one, we'll need to hit at least 70% of our free-throws; I'm expecting this game to be low-scoring, between 114 to 124 for the point total, so every point will be crucial. Also, this will be the first time we face a front-court heavy team, which means defensive rebounding will be a key factor and the offense will need to run through O.J. not Taj. We need at least 20 from OJ and 30 from Daniel, Dwight, and Angelo, which is about their season average. SIU is deep, so staying out of foul trouble will be crucial and fatigue will also come into play; right now Coach Floyd is playing O.J. and Taj over 35 minutes per game, so substitution management will be something to look out for. In terms of a prediction, the game is really a toss-up, but I like SC's talent advantage and momentum right now, so I'm going with the Trojans in a close one.
Prediction: W by 3