What to Watch:
New and Improved - Byron Wesley was third on the team in scoring last season with 11.9 points per game. This season, he was slotted to again be the third option with Eric Wise graduated but Omar Oraby assuming a larger role in the offense. Instead, Wesley has taken over the team's mantle as go-to-guy early in the season with J.T. Terrell not playing full time due to academic issues. Wesley has averaged 21.0 points per game, including a career-high 31 in a come-from-behind win against Northern Arizona.
Little Bully - Wesley has been successful this season because he has taken advantage of his superior strength against smaller lineups and smaller guards. He has always been a slasher that has been able to get into the lane, but he is finishing around the hoop better so far this year, partially due to him using his edge in strength to bully opposing guards. He is also using it to his advantage to lead the team in rebounding with 9.0 per game, including a team-best 12 offensive boards.
Become a Big Bully - Omar Oraby is shooting 75 percent for the season! He's 18 for 24 through four games. That's great…except it's not. As head coach Andy Enfield has said on multiple occasions, if a player is shooting that high of a percentage, he needs to be shooting more. Oraby is only averaging six shots per game.
Against, Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday, Oraby had just five shots. Three of his four baskets were on dunks. He needs to demand the ball more and go to work in the paint. Even though he has been facing teams with post players four inches…five inches…half a foot shorter than him, Oraby has yet to truly take over a game. He's not being aggressive enough. Despite smaller opponents, he hasn't even committed a charge -- a sign of aggressive play -- this season.
Oraby gets one final small lineup tune-up tonight before facing some high major teams with bigger post players. West Alabama features only two players taller than 6-foot-7: Cordell Pope, who comes off the bench at 6-foot-8, and 6-foot-9 Kyle Belcher, who has yet to play this season. Oraby needs to put up a 20-10-5 night at the least.
Book Smart? - What will J.T. Terrell's status be for Thursday's game? After starting and pouring in 20 points in the season opener at Utah State, Terrell didn't start the next two games due to academics. Then on Tuesday, he was held out all together. After the game Enfield said, "We have some decisions to make in the next couple of days as far as his eligibility."
Shoot It Son - With Terrell not playing, that gave Khalil Dukes an opportunity to play on Tuesday. The freshman from Connecticut had played only four minutes this season, but that didn't stop him from stepping into the game and getting into the flow almost immediately. On one of his first offensive possessions, Dukes launched and knocked down a corner 3-pointer. Dukes' hard work is paying off as he has now made both his three-point attempts. He was seen putting up extra shots long after both the first two home games ended and all the fans had departed.
Know Thy Enemy - West Alabama is a Division II program that USC is playing for the first time ever. The Tigers are 1-2 with a win against Stillman and losses at Montevallo and at UTEP. This game is technically the Trojans' Battle 4 Atlantis opener, though West Alabama is counting both this game and its loss to UTEP to be exhibition games since it is playing up a division.
Senior guard Sandy Underwood averaged 28.5 points in the first two games, but was shut down against UTEP, scoring only 5 points on 1-of-4 shooting. He was preseason All-Gulf South Conference after averaging 15.6 points and 7.2 rebounds last year. Against the Miners, West Alabama was able to dominate the offensive boards, out rebounding UTEP 23-4 on the offensive end. The Tigers put up 71 shots in the game. However, they shot just 25 percent. Cordell Pope did have 15 points and 7 rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench.
Like USC, West Alabama has a new coach in Mark Downey, who takes over the Tigers after compiling a 60-28 record at Charleston. Downey took Charleston to its first NCAA Tournament since 2001.
13 Random Stats:
These random stats provided by user yutaka731.
- USC has won the rebounding margin in each game they've played so far.
- USC is 2-0 ATS when winning the assists margin; 0-2 ATS when they don't.
- Omar Oraby has 11 blocks in last two games and accounts for 66 percent of USC's blocks on the season.
- USC is out blocking their opponents - 21 to 11 - on the year,
- The Cal State Fullerton game was the first game USC didn't have more turnovers than the opponent.
- USC shot 81% FTs at Utah State; is shooting 61% in three home games since.
- USC lost the offensive rebound margin in the three games they've won and won the margin in the game they lost.
- USC out shot (FG pct) its opponents in the three games they won, and lost that margin in the game they lost.
- Andy Enfield has played at least 11 players in each game.
- Byron Wesley is the only USC player averaging more than 30 MPG (34)
- Nikola Jovanovic is averaging a foul for every 5.8 minutes played while DJ Haley is averaging a foul for just over every 4 minutes played.
- Byron Wesley has USC's only double-double on the year (16 points and 11 rebs vs CSUN).
- Somebody named "Sir" refereed USC's last game (Sir Allen Conner).
Where to Watch:
Game Time, TV channel: 7:00 p.m. PST, Pac-12 Network
Radio: USC - ESPN 710 AM; West Alabama - ESPN 104.9
Follow Along: Gametracker; USC Twitter - @USC_Hoops; West Alabama Twitter - @UWAAthletics
Odds & More:
Odds and Wagers: Latest Odds: N/A - Because USC is playing a Division II team, the game is off the board.
- Breakdown - Breakdown: Trojans Storm Fullerton, Take 76-62 Victory
- Recap - Trojans Improve to 3-1 With 76-62 Win Over Fullerton
- Preview - USC Hoops vs. Cal State Fullerton: Previews, TV schedule, Odds and More
Projected Starting Lineups:
G - Julian Jacobs (6-3 freshman)
G - Pe'Shon Howard (6-3 senior)
G - Byron Wesley (6-5 junior)
F - Nikola Jovanovic (6-10 freshman)
C - Omar Oraby (7-2 senior)
G - Desmond Raymond (6-0 senior)
G - DeMarco Spears (6-0 senior)
G - Sandy Underwood (6-5 senior)
F - Demetrius Powe (6-5 junior)
F - Jarell Byrd (6-6 junior)