USC Preview

Another hard fought battle, but yet another close loss for the Sun Devils. The Arizona State Sun Devils (6-19, 0-14) will continue their pursuit for their first Pac-10 victory on Sunday night. They will be going up against the 22nd ranked USC Trojans (19-7, 9-4), who will be their third ranked opponent in the last four games.

USC accomplished something they have not done in 21 years - beating Arizona in Tucson. Not only were they victorious, but they were also able to sweep the season series from the Wildcats for the first time in the Lute Olson era. USC was led by senior Lodrick Stewart and junior Nick Young, who each had 26 points on the game. Junior Gabriel Pruitt added 17, while the rest of the team contributed for just nine points. The Trojans were able to force 16 turnovers, while committing just nine.

The maroon and gold may be struggling, but their games remain entertaining. The Sun Devils are coming off yet another near upset of 5th ranked UCLA, and their last five loses have been by an average of just four points. The Sun Devils had a 10 point lead on the Bruins midway through the second half before the visitors went on an 18-2 run. ASU was paced by Jeff Pendergraph who had 14 points and 5 rebounds.

Head Coach: Tim Floyd

Projected Starters

G- Gabriel Pruitt (10.8 PPG, 3.5 APG)
G- Lodrick Stewart (14.4 PPG, 47.8% FG)
G/F- Nick Young (17.4 PPG, 54% FG)
F- Taj Gibson (12.2 PPG, 8.3 RPG)
C- Abdoulaye N'Diaye (3.6 PPG, 3.1 RPG)


In the first meeting between these two teams, USC was able to hold ASU to just 49 points. The Sun Devils fell behind early, trailing 30-18 at the half. In that match Herb Sendek's squad was held to just 29% from the field, including 0-7 from 3-point range. As they have most of the season, the Devils came out firing in the second half out scoring USC 31-28. However, their 46% FG in the second half was not enough to get them back in the game. The Sun Devils were led by Jeff Pendergraph with 13 points and 9 rebounds. The Trojans were paced by versatile swingman Nick Young with 18 points.

After ASU PG Derek Glasser switched his commitment last spring USC lost who was probably going to be their starting point guard. Thus, the Trojans are playing without a "true" point guard. USC relies on their size and speed, and have done a great job at this. Due to their flexibility, Nick Young and Lodrick Stewart a tough match up for any team.

USC relies on their defense and 3-point shooting. They're the Pac-10 leader in those categories, a factor that should bode well when March Madness begins. They hold their opponents to just 37% field goal shooting, which is third best in the country. Their Pac-10 leading 40% shooting from beyond the arc, is 13th best in the country.


With guard/forward combo Nick Young, the second leading scorer in the conference, ASU will have a tough time containing him. The Sun Devils will need to keep a watchful eye on Young who could exploit the zone defense employed frequently by ASU. With Lodrick Stewart making a strong statement against Arizona, he proved that USC's guard combination can be as lethal as any in the country. Freshman guards are taking over the majority of the playing time for the Devils from court. Jerren Shipp, Christian Polk and Derek Glasser have been playing quality minutes and improving each game. Shipp needs to continue to gain his confidence, as he did against UCLA. Glasser has a rough game on Thursday, being off and on the court due to the stomach flu.

Solid Edge – USC


Senior Allen Morill continues to have a solid senior season. However, he will be in for a tough battle when he goes up against freshman Taj Gibson. Gibson is shooting 60% from the field, which is tops in the conference. Using his 6-9 frame, he has been able to consistently be the team leader in rebounds, and a nice presence down low. Morill needs to continue his solid play and use his strength to out rebound Gibson. If Morill can out rebound Gibson, the Devils will take away a valuable weapon that the Trojans rely on.

Edge – USC


The Sun Devils need to find more ways to get the ball down low to Pendergraph. Pendergraph has averaged just eight shots per game in his last six outings. For the Sun Devils to be successful, he needs to get at least a dozen attempts against the Trojans. The reason for this is the fact that the Trojans center, Abdoulaye N'Diaye, averages just 13.8 minutes per game. Pendergraph will need to take advantage of his game experience. If he can get some touches down low early and often, he can be in for a monster night.

Solid Edge – ASU

Final Score – USC 58 ASU 54

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