SPOKANE, Wash. -- Comparisons came easily Thursday when players and coaches from Arkansas and Southern California tried to analyze one another.
USC coach Tim Floyd didn't hesitate.
"When I see Arkansas, I see Stanford," Floyd said of the Trojans' in-state Pac-10 adversary.
Arkansas coach Stan Heath decided to cite a hybrid of two Southeastern Conference foes.
"A combination of Vanderbilt and Mississippi State," Heath said.
Hogs point guard Gary Ervin was a little more sure.
"In some ways, they're like Mississippi State in that they have a great point guard (Gabe Pruitt)," Ervin said.
To be sure, past experiences will come in handy for both squads tonight when they meet around 8:45 p.m. in Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.
USC, with its likely starting lineup of four big, athletic guards, could actually put out a lineup that won't intimidate Arkansas.
The Hogs have notched a couple of victories over both Mississippi State and Vanderbilt since Feb. 28. The Razorbacks held significant size advantages against the Bulldogs and Commodores in the frontcourt and managed to stick with those teams' tall guards.
"The way (USC) shoots the ball reminds me of those teams," Heath said. "They have three guys that have the ability to make guarded shots. They make tough shots."
Just like Mississippi State's Jamont Gordon and Vanderbilt's Derrick Byars and Shan Foster.
Nick Young, USC's leading scorer at 17.4 points per game, could be the best tough-shot maker of them all.
"He's a great player," Ervin said. "Sometimes, he makes shots that you just can't believe he can make. He has no conscience sometimes."
As for the other comparison, Arkansas-Stanford has to make Floyd a little uneasy.
USC did beat Stanford in two of the teams' three meetings this season. But in the one loss, Stanford's frontcourt dominated. The Cardinal blocked a season-high 19 shots in a 65-50 loss on Jan. 25 in Palo Alto, Calif.
"I think they set a Pac-10 record," Floyd said. "Certainly, a school record."
He then joked, "Maybe an NBA record. The length, the size, the ability to change shots. They may also be better in transition than Stanford."
That's because Arkansas' post players aren't just big. They're also athletic. With Charles Thomas possibly limited by his sprained left ankle, Michael Washington and Darian Townes figure to see increased minutes. Those are two 6-foot-10 forwards to go along with 7-foot center Steven Hill.
So, on paper at least, the comparisons game seems to play in Arkansas' favor.
Then again, the Hogs did lose by 24 points at Mississippi State on Feb. 14. On that night, the Bulldogs drained 11 of their first 15 attempts from 3-point range. USC is 13th in the nation in 3-point percentage at 40.3
"When they have their shooting going, they're awfully difficult to beat," Heath said. "We need to make those shots as tough as possible for them. I think the 3-point shot is a big part of their success."
Just like Mississippi State and Vanderbilt.
NCAA EAST REGIONAL TICKET
NO. 12 ARKANSAS VS. NO. 5 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
WHEN: 8:45 p.m.
TV: KFSM (Cable channel 5)
WHERE: Spokane Memorial Arena, Spokane, Wash.
RECORDS: Arkansas, 21-13; No. 23 (AP) Southern California, 23-11
RADIO: KXIO-FM 106.9; KEZA-FM 107.9; KKEG-FM 92.1; KFPW-AM 1230; KQBK-FM 104.7; KHGG-AM 1580; KHGG-FM 103.1; KDYN-AM 1540; KDYN-FM 96.7; KTTG-FM 96.3
COACHES: Arkansas, Stan Heath (82-70, 5th season; 112-75 overall, 6 seasons); Southern California, Tim Floyd (40-24, 2nd season; 283-154, 14 seasons
SERIES: Southern California leads 2-0 (Never played on a neutral site)
LAST MEETING: Arkansas lost 88-74 on Jan. 25, 1986, in Fayetteville
ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS (21-13)
Name Ht. Cl. PPG RPG
G Gary Ervin 6-0 Junior 10.0 3.5
G Patrick Beverley 6-1 Freshman 13.8 4.5
C Steven Hill 7-0 Junior 6.2 4.4
F Michael Washington 6-10 Freshman 3.5 1.6
F Sonny Weems 6-6 Junior 11.7 4.8
F Charles Thomas 6-8 Junior 10.7 5.9
F Darian Townes 6-10 Junior 8.2 4.3
G Stefan Welsh 6-2 Freshman 3.3 0.9
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (23-11)
Name Ht. Cl. PPG RPG
G Lodrick Stewart 6-4 Senior 14.0 3.6
G Gabe Pruitt 6-4 Junior 12.6 2.5
G Nick Young 6-6 Junior 17.4 4.4
G Dwight Lewis 6-5 Freshman 5.9 2.1
F Taj Gibson 6-9 Freshman 11.8 8.4
G Daniel Hackett 6-5 Freshman 4.8 2.8
C Abdoulaye N'diaye 6-11 Senior 3.3 2.9
F RouSean Cromwell 6-11 Sophomore 2.4 2.2
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