Washington basketball faces critical showdown against USC in Pac-12 Tournament opener

Mar 7, 2024; Pullman, Washington, USA; Washington Huskies forward Keion Brooks Jr. (1) shoots the
Mar 7, 2024; Pullman, Washington, USA; Washington Huskies forward Keion Brooks Jr. (1) shoots the / James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 8 Washington Huskies basketball teams are gearing up to take on the No. 9 USC Trojans in a high-stakes clash in the first round of the Pac-12 men's tournament on Wednesday, March 13. The winner of this bout will advance to face the formidable No. 1 seed Arizona (No. 6 nationally), adding an extra layer of pressure to an already critical matchup.

Under the coaching helm of Mike Hopkins, the Huskies find themselves in a unique situation as they announced that Hopkins will part ways with the team after the season but will remain in his position through post-season play.

Washington basketball to re-face USC in Pac-12 Tournament opener

In their recent encounter with USC during the regular season, the Huskies suffered a tough 75-82 loss. The struggle to contain USC's Isaiah Collier, who exploded for 31 points, underscored the team's defensive vulnerabilities. USC's superior shooting performance further highlighted the challenges Washington faces.

For the Huskies to secure a victory, they must capitalize on the offensive prowess of leading scorer Keion Brooks Jr. However, Brooks needs to improve his shooting efficiency after a lackluster 5-14 field goal and 2-7 three-point performance in their previous matchup.

Koren Johnson, who delivered an impressive 21-point performance against USC earlier, remains a key asset for the Huskies and could play a pivotal role in turning the tide in their favor.

As the Huskies prepare for this crucial showdown, their postseason fate hangs in the balance. The team's ability to rectify defensive lapses, optimize offensive opportunities, and navigate the coaching transition will determine their success in the Pac-12 tournament and beyond.