What to Watch:
Bouncing Back - The Trojans took a beating on Sunday at Pauley Pavilion in their Pac-12 opener. It wasn't pretty. But how does USC respond after the loss? Will that loss have an effect on the Trojans going forward or can they shake it off and put it behind them? USC's veterans, particularly at the guard position, need to lead the team past a single game.
7-Footer Battles - On USC's first possession against UCLA, Omar Oraby caught the ball on in the post on the right block and opened up over his right shoulder toward the middle of the lane. The middle of his tricep caught one of UCLA's Wear twins square in the jaw for an offensive foul due to Oraby's four-inch height advantage on the Wears. Oraby won't have to worry about that when he posts up against Arizona State center Jordan Bachynski on Thursday. Bachynski, like Oraby, measures in at 7'2" -- the tallest player Oraby will face this season.
Bachynski is also the conference's reigning blocked shot champion after swatting away 120 last season. He is averaging almost five blocks per game and, barring an injury, will break the Pac-12 career blocked shots record later this year. He currently is 23 blocks away from tying Arizona's Anthony Cook (1985-89). The Canadian center has really blossomed this season doubling his per game production from his first three years. While he was a defensive force, he was merely an offensive afterthought previously, but now the Trojans will have to gameplan for the big man, who is shooting 60 percent.
Oraby will need to step up to the challenge after being in foul trouble against UCLA and having only one double-digit scoring effort in the last nine games.
Corralling Jahii - Sophomore Jahii Carson is one of the league's most dynamic scorers. He enters the game averaging 18.7 points per game and has scored 30+ points four times in his career, including a 40-point outburst earlier this season at UNLV. But when Carson struggles to score, the Sun Devils struggle. Five times this season, Carson has been held to 15 points or fewer. Arizona State is 2-3...all three of its losses have come when Carson hasn't scored. The Trojans have to defend the dribble drive much better than they did against UCLA where the Bruin guards were able to get into the lane at ease and dish to open shooters.
Where Have You Gone Mr. Howard - Back-to-back games senior guard Pe'Shon Howard has gone scoreless. In the seven games prior to that, Howard was averaging 15.4 points, which included his dramatic 3-pointer at the buzzer in overtime to knock off Dayton on the road. The Trojans need scoring/outside shooting from the veteran Howard.
Smart Shooting - J.T. Terrell had 18 points in 23 minutes against Howard in the last home game in his first extended minutes since returning from ineligibility. He then had 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting against UCLA...before missing his final six shots of the contest. The Trojans are elevated to another level when Terrell is on...and when he's taking smart shots, he's almost always on.
Protect Galen - USC is 7-0 at home this season. The Trojans need to protect home court to have a shot at a quality record in the Pac-12. That starts on Thursday when they host the Sun Devils. With No. 1 Arizona coming to play on Sunday, USC needs to claim its first conference win, so it isn't in danger of falling to 0-3.
Last Season: Jan. 24 - Arizona State 98-93 (OT); Mar. 2 - USC 57-56.
USC and Arizona State had two highly competitive games last season. The first matchup, in the desert, saw USC erase a 6-point deficit in the final minute of regulation to send the game to overtime, but senior Jio Fontan, who finished with 25 points, couldn't knock down a 3-pointer from the top of the key with five seconds left to tie the game in the extra frame.
At the Galen Center, the second matchup had a very similar finish with Jahii Carson scoring four points in the final seconds to cut USC's lead down to one. Senior Eric Wise missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw, but Carson, who finished with 23 points, couldn't hit on a 35-foot heave at the buzzer.
Where to Watch:
Game Time, TV channel: 7:00 p.m. PST, Pac-12 Network (Ted Robinson, Don McLean)
Radio: ESPN 710 AM (Chris Fisher, Brandon Granville)
Odds & More:
Odds and Wagers: Latest Odds (according to Bovada): Arizona State -3.5/USC +3.5, Over/Under N/A
Last Home Game:
- Photo Gallery/Recap - Trojans Pull Away for 82-60 Win Over Howard
Projected Starting Lineups: