USC Preview

Four short years ago, Derek Glasser was on his way to USC as a preferred walk-on when Kevin Kruger left for UNLV to play for his Dad and that opened up a spot for the PG. Now, as Glasser heads into his final weekend of games at Wells Fargo Arena, the ASU Sun Devils (20-9, 10-6) will look to avenge an ugly loss against the heavily sanctioned USC Trojans (16-12) on Thursday night in Tempe.

To even be in the running for the Pac-10 title speaks volumes about Herb Sendek and his staff as well as the play of the entire team. After the Eric Boateng show lifted the Devils to a come from behind win over Stanford, ASU traveled to Berkeley to take on Cal in a game to decide the Pac-10 leader. After going back and forth for the first half, the Bears took control and won 62-46 to clinch the Pac-10. The Devils were led by a surprisingly strong effort from Jerren Shipp, who poured in 14 points.

As for USC, the season took a sharp turn for catastrophe in early January when the NCAA slapped down a postseason ban on the Trojans which means the season ends for USC on Saturday against Arizona no matter what. With that said, Kevin O'Neill has done a marvelous job in year one given his situation. From Tim Floyd taking the fall to losing a few key players to then having pretty much all their recruits taking off, it was a rocky start to O'Neill's tenure and none of it was his fault. Despite all those factors going against them, the Trojans have been impressive this season. With wins over Tennessee, Cal, ASU and a sweep over Washington – USC is a dangerous team and will give ASU all they can handle. Although they have lost three straight, Dwight Lewis has always done well against the Devils and will be a force to be reckoned with.

Projected Starters

G – Mike Gerrity – (8.9 PPG, 3.7 APG) vs. Derek Glasser (10.2 PPG, 4.9 APG)

G – Dwight Lewis – (13.7 PPG, 31% 3PT) vs. Jamelle McMillan (6.8 PPG, 3.0 APG)

G/F – Marcus Johnson – (9.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG) vs. Ty Abbott (12.3 PPG, 43% 3PT)

F – Nikola Vucevic – (11.2 PPG, 9.8 RPG) vs. Rihards Kuksiks (11.4 PPG, 38% 3PT)

F – Alex Stephenson – (8.3 PPG, 7.2 RPG) vs. Eric Boateng (8.5 PPG, 6.7 RPG)

Backcourt

Mike Gerrity is at school #3 after stints at Pepperdine and Charlotte and has been the steadying force for the USC offense running the point. Next to him, the streakiest shooter in the land that happens to destroy ASU every time out, is Dwight Lewis. It's the last time ASU will have to deal with this guy and that is music to everyone's ears in Sun Devil land. Off the bench will be Donte Smith and Marcus Simmons and if we are very lucky, we could see Lil' Romeo off the bench if the Devils are up by enough.

For ASU, Derek Glasser runs the show with Jamelle McMillan and Ty Abbott on the wings. After torching Arizona a couple weeks ago, defenses have really turned up the heat on Abbott and he has scored just 18 points in the last two games. If Abbott can secure some open looks coming off of ball screens, the offense will open up and everyone else will follow suit. Trent Lockett is the first guy off the pine for ASU.

Edge – ASU

Frontcourt

A couple years ago, Alex Stephenson was transferring from UNC and he was considering both ASU and USC before eventually choosing the Men of Troy. Our loss was their gain as the bruising forward has been tough to contain and will be a battle for Eric Boateng down low. Next to him is Nikola Vucevic, a double-double machine that is really picked up his game in his sophomore campaign. Marcus Johnson has been a key cog in the rotation all season as well. Coming on in relief will be Leonard Washington.

The Devils will counter on the interior with Boateng and Rihards Kuksiks. The British big man has been rock solid lately while his frontcourt-mate Kuksiks has been ice-cold of late and his poor shooting needs to be corrected if ASU wants to make a run at an NCAA at-large berth or even go nuts and win the Pac-10 Tournament. The first call to the bullpen will be to Jerren Shipp who has been playing out of his mind lately.

Edge – USC

X-Factor

Derek Glasser. The heady PG will need to be on his game for ASU to get revenge against the Trojans and try to gain momentum in hopes of earning a postseason bid. After struggling for much of the season, the shooting has improved lately and he will need to get his for ASU to get the W. Who Will Win and Why

After a mighty 37-point showing in their loss in LA, the Devils immediately went back to the drawing board and opened up the offense which has led them to wins in ten of their last 14. ASU plays well at home and USC is in a tailspin. The Devils will win convincingly.

ASU 61 USC 48


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