Just a few days removed from their hard-fought home victory over rival UCLA, the Trojans head north to take on the Washington Huskies, who trail 'SC by a half a game in the conference standings. Despite their lower ranking, the Huskies enter the game as the favorites after winning fives out of their last six games. Additionally, the game is taking place at Bank of American Arena in Seattle, a place where UW has had much success. From the Daily Trojan:
"[Washington's] energy at home in that building is unbelievable," USC coach Kevin O'Neill said. "The way they play at home is different. The second time around you play teams you change some things, and we'll definitely make some adjustments. We're going to have to make sure we control the tempo because if we play at their tempo we'll lose."
So far this season, the two teams have demonstrated polar opposites strengths. The Huskies, who average 81.1 points per game, enter tonight's matchup ranked first in the conference and 19th in the nation in scoring but second to last in points scored against per game. The Trojans, on the other hand, are second to last in the Pac-10 in scoring but continue to be ranked among the top-five teams nationally in defense, averaging only 56.4 points allowed per game.
But in terms of head-to-head success, the Trojans certainly have the upper hand this year.
The last meeting between the teams ended in a lopsided 87-61 victory for the Trojans, who turned the tables on the Huskies and dominated offensively. Senior forward Marcus Johnson led the Trojans with 22 points as he shot 82 percent from the field, and all five USC starters recorded double-digit point totals. Washington was unable to find its rhythm offensively, as senior Quincy Pondexter was held to two points on 1-for-10 shooting.
"I know [Pondexter] didn't have a great game last game, and I know at home he'll be looking to score," said Johnson. "He's athletic, he's strong and he's real versatile. It'll be a good matchup."
Washington isn't going to lose by 26 points this time. That much I can say. Are they going to beat the Trojans this time around and fully exercise their home-court advantage? I'm not so sure. Yes, they are certainly playing much better as the year goes along, but so is 'SC. Kevin O'Neill's bunch is doing a fantastic job at controlling the tempo and slowing the games down, which gives the Trojans a distinct advantage against teams like Washington. Yet, they still have yet to win a road game outside of Los Angeles so this will certainly be a challenging matchup for them. However, based on their most recent performances, you have to like their odds against a team that struggles on the defensive end of the floor.
Luckily, this game is being televised on Fox Sports Prime Ticket, so for all those Trojan fans across the country, come on and stop by for the gameday thread. I'll be here for most of it. It should be real fun.