The last time around USC kicked UW up and down the court with their trio of 7-footers and excellent defensive play by their backcourt. C.J. Wilcox was locked down to 8 points on 3 of 7 shooting, 2 of 4 behind the arc. What Wilcox lacked in offensive production he mad up for with 7 rebounds and an incredible 6 steals. Aziz N’Diaye had a solid double-double game with 12 rebounds along with 10 points on just 4 of 10 shooting. N’Diaye could have had a monster night if his 2 of 9 free throw shooting hadn’t held him back.
The Dawgs will need to shore up their perimeter play against the Trojans. J.T. Terrell lit the Dawgs up for 18 points behind 4 of 7 shooting from 3. The other improvement area? Free throws, of course. The Dawgs were a miserable 4 of 14 from the line, while the Trojans were an excellent 14 of 15. In all other areas of the game, the Huskies held their own.
The Trojans have a losing record, but their conference record is a guaranteed .500 year. The Huskies on the other hand have a winning record, but to guarantee .500 they must split this series or better. The Dawgs backcourt play has been revitalized the past two games with strong offensive performances by Scott Suggs and C.J. Wilcox and that guard play will need to continue if the Husky are to have a chance against the Trojans. Aziz N’Diaye will also need to improve his play from the WSU outing last Sunday. The game against the Cougars is the first time N’Diaye has failed to grab a rebound and posted only a pair of points in 13 minutes.
The Trojans have been performing quite strongly over the past few week with an impressive 11 point win over Arizona at home and a narrow 1 point win over ASU. The Trojans were able to pull off the victory over the Wildcats for one very simple reason: they shot the lights out. 61% from the field, 60% from the arc, and 81% at the free throw line.
The Dawgs need a big run to finish out the year for tournament seeding. Not NCAA, but NIT. The only way the Huskies will get into the NCAA is with an unlikely Pac-12 Tournament Championship. I believe the field is too deep for this Husky squad to win 4 in a row to take home the tournament trophy. If the Dawgs can finish up the regular season with a pair of wins on their way to a 10-8 record and win two games in the Pac-12 tournament, I believe the Huskies can get a 1 or 2 seed in the NIT and potentially save this season from complete disappointment.