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USC - UCLA: An abridged preview

Paragon's out of pocket and I'm not going to pretend that I am the go-to guy on basketball, so here's your abridged preview:

  • UCLA may or may not play Mbah a Moute. His absence was a key reason that Jefferson was able to have such a good game at Pauley. If Mbah a Moute plays, assume Jefferson will score less.
  • With Hackett out, Angelo Johnson is trying to get fit for significant game time. Apparently the triangle-two defense that UCLA couldn't crack at Pauley requires considerable effort and some experience. Oh dear.
  • OJ Mayo pulled a groin muscle and was taking it easy in practice. Oh dear again. And his mother has come out from WV for the game. Oh crap.
  • Most of the USC players got the memo about not giving the UCLA players any bulletin board material. Davon Jefferson? Not so much:
Freshman forward Davon Jefferson, who scored a career-high 25 points in the first game against UCLA, said he felt confident going into the rematch even though the Trojans will be playing without Hackett, who is recovering from a stress fracture in his lower back.

"We know what they like to go to, they know what we like to go to," Jefferson said of the Bruins. "I think we play better defense than them, and we have better big men."

Asked whether he expected UCLA to make adjustments considering they lost the first rivalry game, Jefferson said, "I hope so. I hope they come more physical, with better play. They're bigger than us on the inside, so I hope they at least come with some kind of strength or physicalness or something. Tell them to come with something."

Jefferson didn't see it in the first game?

"Nah, I didn't see it at all," he said. "None of them. So I hope they come with something. No excuses, no concussions, none of that."

You can always identify the freshmen who need to learn a lesson the hard way: inviting the #6 team in the country, who are coming off a loss in Seattle and the loss at Pauley, to bring it on... that's one clue.

Anyway, I hope that the Trojans at least don't come out too flat, but I can't see them pulling this one out. Prove me wrong, gentlemen!