Scouting Report: USC vs. Arizona

<B>No. 17/16 Arizona 12-3 (2-1) vs. USC 7-8 (0-4)</B><BR> <B>Date: Thursday, Jan. 13, 2005</B><BR> <B>Time: approx. 8:30 MST</B><BR> <B>Location: Lute and Bobbi Olson Court at McKale Center (14,500), Tucson, AZ</B>

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Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
Pregame: 6:30 p.m. on 1290 a.m. (Brad Allis, Pete Delgado, John Schuster, Ryan Radtke, Joe Nehls)
Postgame call-in show: 1290 a.m. approximately 30 minutes after the end of the game.
TV: FSNA (Dave Sitton/Bob Elliott)
On-Line: Arizona All Access (subscription required)

USC at a glance: Location: Los Angeles, CA
Coach: Jim Saia (5-6)
Leading Scorer: Lodrick Stewart (14.7)
Leading Rebounder: Gregg Guenther (6.4)
Leading Assists: Gabriel Pruitt (3.8)
Last Meeting: Arizona defeated USC on a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Mustafa Shakur in the PAC-10 Tournament on March 11, 2004. Arizona leads the series 50-33.
Last Time Out: Arizona lost to Stanford 87-76. USC lost to Washington State 69-52.
OVERVIEW: Arizona enters this game following a bad loss to Stanford, who was the last place team in the PAC-10. Now they will face the current last ranked team in the PAC-10. Arizona should have crushed a Stanford team with very little depth, but allowed the Cardinal to shot 58%. Mustafa Shakur has voiced that he feels Arizona will win against USC. Now they just need to do it.

USC is in what you could call, shambles, right now as Head Coach Henry Bibby was fired just four games into the season. Jim Saia took over as interim head coach and has lead the Trojans to a 5-6 record under his tutelage. However, the Trojans will be gunning for the Cats, just as Stanford was, and it is on the players shoulders to be prepared.

The Trojans are a veteran team. They have nine upperclassmen on the roster. However, their starting lineup still hasn't been finalized. There are four players who have been starting pretty much every game. They are sophomore Lodrick Stewart, freshman Gabriel Pruitt, senior Rory O'Neil and freshman Nick Young. So while there are many veterans on this year's squad, there are few in the starting five.

Arizona fans will experience a de ja vu with some of the players names. It feels like some of these guys have been there forever including Errick and Derrick Craven, and Gregg Guenther. For years their names have been heard over the PA and from Brian Jefferies, and they will be heard once again.

This is a must-win for both teams. For Arizona it is an opportunity to get back on track as they pursue the Pac-10 title. For USC it is an opportunity to knock off a giant in college basketball at a time that their team could use a win to rebuild some confidence.

KEY MATCH-UP:Mustafa Shakur vs. Gabriel Pruitt. After Shakur's comment in which he basically said that they don't think any team can beat them, and in essence guaranteeing victory, it is his time to regain his composure after a few disappointing games. This is his game to put his money where his mouth is. He needs to be huge in order for Arizona to win. Pruitt has been having a very good season averaging 10.5 points, 3.8 assists, and 2.7 rebounds. In addition Pruitt also leads the Trojans in steals with 33. If Shakur can hold him, it will be hard for USC to come away with the upset.

OUTLOOK: This game comes down to one thing. Arizona playing the way they can. If Arizona comes in and plays as they had the nine games prior to the loss to Stanford, they will win in a blowout. However, if they do not come out ready and willing to play, they stand very little chance against a team that wants nothing more than to beat the Cats. In the end Arizona should come away with the convincing win, and prove that they are for real.

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