What to Watch:
Deforestation - Akron's leading scorer and rebounder, Demetrius Treadwell, was suspended indefinitely from the basketball team after being accused in a police report of assaulting Zips women's basketball player Sina King at King's home at 4 a.m. Saturday. Treadwell was not charged with any crime, but the police are still investigating the incident and he won't be available for Thursday's game against USC.
Freshman Frontman Faceoff - Both teams feature first-year players running the show at the point guard position. USC's star recruit, Jordan McLaughlin, leads the team in scoring with 17.0 points per game and 6.5 assists per game while Akron's Noah Robotham had eight points, three rebounds and five rebounds in the Zips' season-opening win over UMBC.
McLaughlin has had some turnover issues with seven in the opener and another two against Tennessee Tech, but there were a handful of errant passes that could have ended up turnovers. Robotham is only the fifth true freshman to start in head coach Keith Dambront's 11 season openers at Akron. This will be a critical matchup on Thursday.
Ball Control Issues -In the first two games, the Trojans have turned the ball over 40 times, which has led to 43 points for opponents. They did create 16 turnovers against Tennessee Tech after only causing four turnovers in the season opener, but they have lost the turnover battle in both games. USC has to do a much better job controlling the ball if it wants to have success going forward.
While Jordan McLaughlin's nine turnovers aren't enjoyable, they aren't that disconcerting. More troublesome than the guy with the ball in his hand approximately 60 percent of the time on offense having turnovers is the starting frontcourt's turnover issues. Nikola Jovanovic is averaging 4.0 turnovers while Malik Martin has had three turnovers in each game.
Get on the Glass - The Trojans gave up 22 offensive rebounds to Tennessee Tech on Monday primarily to bigs that transferred from junior colleges. Akron features Pat Forsythe, a 6'11" center who transferred from West Virginia. The Zips have a pair of 6'7" wings in Reggie McAdams and Jake Kretzer that could also cause USC some issues rebounding the ball, especially if the Trojans use as much zone defense as they did against the Golden Eagles earlier this week.
MACtion - The Trojans are playing Akron for the first time ever. USC has only played teams currently in the Mid-American Conference on eight previous occasions with the most recent coming in 2009. The Trojans have an all-time 7-1 record against teams currently in the MAC with the lone loss coming to Western Michigan in 2004 -- an 83-65 blowout victory for the Broncos.
Akron and USC have never met, so we're flashing back to the last time USC played a Mid-American Conference squad:
Dec. 22, 2009 - USC defeats Western Michigan 55-51 (@ Diamond Head Classic). Trailing 27-18 at halftime, USC got hot in the second half for a close victory that wasn't decided until David Kool missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with five seconds remaining. Senior point guard Mike Gerrity had 15 of his 17 points in the second half to lead a Trojan attack that featured four players in double figures (Marcus Johnson, Nikola Vucevic, Dwight Lewis).
Where to Watch:
Game Time, TV channel: 9:30 a.m. PST, No TV...available on ESPN3 (Roy Philpott, Craig Robinson)
Radio: USC: ESPN 710 AM (Chris Fisher); Akron: IMG Sports Network - Sports Radio (Steve French, Joe Dunn)
Follow Along: Gametracker; USC Twitter - @USC_Hoops; Akron Twitter - @ZipsMBB
Odds & More:
Odds and Wagers: Latest Odds: USC -1.5, Over/Under: N/A
Projected Starting Lineups:
G - Jordan McLaughlin (6-1 freshman)
G - Katin Reinhardt (6-6 sophomore)
G - Julian Jacobs (6-5 sophomore)
F - Malik Martin (6-11 freshman)
F - Nikola Jovanovic (6-11 sophomore)
G - Noah Robotham (6-1 freshman)
G - Deji Ibitayo (6-4 senior)
G - Reggie McAdams (6-7 junior)
F - Kwan Cheatham Jr. (6-8 sophomore)
C - Pat Forsythe (6-11 senior)