After splitting their opening weekend of conference play, USC (12-3,1-1) has their first conference homestand of the season as they will face the Arizona State Sun Devils (10-4, 0-1) on Thursday and the #7 Arizona Wildcats (1-0, 13-1) on Saturday.
Previewing the Arizona State Sun Devils:
Under first-year head coach Bobby Hurley, the Arizona State Sun Devils are on the path to become one of the better teams in the Pac-12 Conference. Despite their conference opener loss to Arizona on Sunday, the Sun Devils had a great non-conference season with victories over Belmont, @Creighton, NC State (in Brooklyn), Texas A&M, and @UNLV. ASU went 3-2 on the road during their non-conference schedule with losses against Kentucky and Marquette in overtime. The Sun Devils are led by their dynamic guard duo of Tra Holder (15.2 ppg, 3.4 apg.) and Gerry Blakes (11.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.1 apg). Holder has improved dramatically in 2015, doubling his point total from a year ago (7.0 ppg) and is coming off of a season-high 24 points against Arizona. Blakes thrives at the dribble-drive and will certainly look to put on a show this weekend in front of friends and family (Inglewood, Ca. native). The teams split the two meetings in 2015.
Previewing the Arizona Wildcats:
Despite losing their top four scorers from a year ago, the Arizona Wildcats are rolling, most recently beating the Sun Devils 94-82 this past Sunday in Tempe. Arizona had a "weak" non-conference schedule by their standards but did beat Gonzaga in Spokane (their only loss came against Providence in the DirecTV Wooden Legacy). After sitting out last season after transferring from Boston College, senior forward Ryan Anderson is having a fantastic season, averaging a double-double per game (15.1 ppg, 10.2 rpg). Arizona is a very good rebounding team and their size will be a challenge for USC. Freshman phenom Allonzo Trier is second on the team in scoring with 14.1 points per game and what's even more impressive is that he is shooting almost 53% from the field. Head Coach Sean Miller has yet another talented team, the question is, can the Wildcats climb over the hump and make it to the Final Four? (They have lost in the Elite Eight in 3 of the last 5 years).