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January 11, 2009Still licking their wounds from an unexpected split in the State of Oregon, the University of Southern California Trojans will battle the highly ranked UCLA Bruins (No. 10 AP, No. 7 ESPN/USA Today) this Sunday evening at the Galen Center. Gone to the NBA are sensational freshmen O.J. Mayo and Kevin Love, but there is plenty to be excited about in this, the 227th edition of the "Crosstown Showdown." This Sunday's contest is the first regular season meeting between the Bruins and Trojans this year. USC will travel to Pauley Pavilion on February 4th.
BY THE NUMBERS:
Records: USC (10-4, 1-1); UCLA (12-2, 2-0).
Notable Wins: USC (None); UCLA (None).
Conference Ranks: Offense, Defense, Notable.
USC: 7th scoring offense (72.0 PPG); 5th scoring defense (61.6 PPG); 1st blocked shots (5.7 BSPG).
UCLA: 3rd scoring offense (77.1 PPG); 2nd scoring defense (58.2 PPG); 1st scoring margin (+18.9 PPG).
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
G Dwight Lewis 16.1 PPG, 2.2 RPG.
F Taj Gibson 15.4 PPG, 10.6 RPG.
F DeMar Derozan 11.9 PPG, 5.0 RPG.
G Daniel Hackett 10.9 PPG, 6 APG.
F Leonard Washington 8.9 PPG, 6.1 RPG (OUT).
G Darren Collison 15.0 PPG, 5.4 APG.
G-F Josh Shipp 11.8 PPG, 3.1 RPG.
G Jrue Holliday 10.3 PPG, 3.9 RPG.
C Alfred Aboya 9.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG.
G Michael Roll 8.3 PPG, 60% 3-point FG %.
NEED TO KNOW:
LAST TIME OUT:
Last Thursday saw USC dismantle the Oregon Ducks in usually unkind MacArthur Court, 83-62. Dwight Lewis tied a career-high with 26 points for USC and freshman DeMar Derozan had his best game of the season, scoring 14 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. The Trojans ran away with the contest after being tied with the Ducks at the half, shooting 59% from the field during the 2nd frame. Guard Daniel Hackett did it all for USC, scoring 15 points, pulling down 9 rebounds and collecting 7 assists.
On Saturday, Oregon State continued their recent athletic mastery of USC, this time defeating the Trojans in basketball, 62-58 in overtime in Corvallis. The Trojans, who lead by as many as 15 points in the 2nd half, watched the Beavers' Roeland Schaftenaar make good on a 3-pointer from the top of the key at the end of regulation to send the game into the extra period. OSU outscored the Trojans 8-4 in overtime, collecting their first conference win since defeating Washington on February 22, 2007. Taj Gibson lead USC with 15 points and 4 rebounds. Schaftenaar had 18 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists for Oregon State, who confounded USC with their "Princeton" scheme on offense and their steady zone defense.
SIX SHOOTER: SIX KEYS TO DEFEATING UCLA AND A PREDICTION:
Despite the lack of a true post presence on offense, the Bruins manage to score and do so at an alarming rate. Simply put, UCLA's roster is riddled with pure scorers. If USC allows open looks at the basket for the Bruins, the Trojans will lose and do so by double digits. However, if USC can get a hand in the faces of the Bruin shooters and take full advantage of the Bruin rebounding ineptitude, the Trojans will keep this contest very close. To win, USC must have at least four players (preferably the entire starting lineup) in double figures in scoring, most notably Dwight Lewis, who has struggled in three of the four Trojan losses. In the Trojans three best performances on the season (at Oklahoma, vs. Georgia Tech, at Oregon), four to five players have scored 10 points or more. However, asking for this against a Ben Howland coached team may be asking for too much, especially considering the other factors (rebounding, low turnovers) that must be in USC's favor for a Trojan victory. The Trojans have been stewing all week and will come out on fire in front of the Galen Center crowd but in the end, the Bruins will likely prevail by a narrow margin.
UCLA 67 USC 63
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