The USC Trojans are coming off a comeback victory against Drexel that saw the team play its best game. They will try to build on that with a game against 3-1 Penn State in the Trojans final game of the Charleston Classic.
What to Watch:
Turnovers - After 56 turnovers in the first three games, USC only turned the ball over nine times against Drexel and forced 21 from the Dragons. The Trojans will have a tough time beating Penn State if they don't win the turnover battle. And it all starts with freshman point guard Jordan McLaughlin, who had eight assists and only one turnover against Drexel after averaging 4.3 turnovers in the first three games.
Missing Martin - USC freshman post player Malik Martin left Friday's game after hyperextending his right knee. He had to be carried off the court by teammates and has been on crutches since. Once the team returns to Los Angeles, Martin will have an MRI to determine the full extent of the injury. Without Martin, the Trojans are down to three post players, so it's important for them not to get into early foul trouble. Penn State has a smaller frontcourt, but the USC guards are going to have to help on the glass.
Board Work - Speaking of rebounding, the Trojans continue to struggle on the boards. Andy Enfield has talked about the Trojans needing their guards to help rebound, but it's everyone. USC has given up way too many offensive rebounds -- 54 in the first four games! In its three wins, Penn State won the rebounding battle. In the Nittany Lions' loss to Charlotte, they lost the boards battle. If USC can outrebound the Nittany Lions, the Trojans can win.
Go D.J. - Penn State shooting guard D.J. Newbill has been going off early in the season and he seems to really enjoy the Charleston Classic. He is averaging 24 points per game this season after scoring 35 in Thursday's double overtime loss to Charlotte and 26 points against Cornell, including the game-winning, buzzer-beating driving layup. The senior captain has started since he stepped on campus.
Playing the Hometown Team - Penn State redshirt freshman Payton Banks isn't getting a trip home like he would if Penn State played at USC, but he is getting to play against the (somewhat) hometown team going against the Trojans. The 6'6" post player attended Orange Lutheran high school in Orange County.
Tired Legs? - The Nittany Lions had the day off yesterday, but they played two very exhausting games on back-to-back days, going to double overtime against Charlotte and winning at the buzzer against Cornell. D.J. Newbill played 89 of the 90 possible minutes. Ross Travis played 70 minutes and a handful of other players logged at least 60 minutes in the two games. Will that play a part late in the game?
Last Matchup: Penn State won 70-61 back on March 20, 1954.
Back when there was still a third-place game in the NCAA Tournament, the Trojans fell to the Nittany Lions after losing by two points to Bradley in the Final Four. It was the Trojans' last Final Four appearance. USC center Roy Irvin was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team and was later drafted by the NBA's Rochester Royals.
Where to Watch:
Game Time, TV channel: 9:30 a.m. PST, ESPN3 (Bob Picozzi, Dino Gaudio)
Radio: USC: ESPN 710 AM (Chris Fisher); Penn State: Penn State Sports Network (Loren Crispell, Dick Jerardi)
Odds & More:
Odds and Wagers: Latest Odds: Penn State -6.5 favorite, 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 - Darion Clark (6-7 sophmore)
F - Nikola Jovanovic (6-11 sophomore)
G - Shep Garner (6-1 freshman)
G - D.J. Newbill (6-4 senior)
G - Brandon Taylor (6-2 junior)
F - Ross Travis (6-6 senior)
F - Donovan Jack (6-9 junior)