Utah vs USC: Game Matchups and Preview

Breaking down the Pac 12 opener between the Runnin Utes and the Trojans

Guards
USC runs out three freshmen guards in their starting lineup, led by Jordan McLaughlin who is averaging 13.3 points and 5.2 assists per game to lead the team in both categories. Elijah Stewart and Malik Marquetti are both big guards at 6'5" and 6'6" but neither freshman has contributed much this season on the offensive end.

Delon Wright continues to fill up the stat sheet for the Runnin Utes, leading the team in scoring, assists, and steals, while coming in second in blocks and rebounds per game. The guy does it all and is probably the front-runner for Pac 12 player of the year at this point. Brandon Taylor is fourth on the team in scoring at just under 10 points and has looked more confident this season while giving the Utes a reliable 3 point threat.
Advantage: Utah

Forwards
Serbian Nikola Jovanovic may be USC's best offensive threat. The 6'11" sophomore can bang inside or step back and knock down shots outside as well. He's averaging 11.8 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Another sophomore in Darion Clark lines up at small forward and chips in 7 points and 7 boards per game.

With a game under his belt after returning from injury, Jordan Loveridge may be ready to step back into the starting lineup Friday night. He sure looked like he hadn't lost a step against Carroll College finishing with a team high 14 points. A healthy Loveridge gives Utah a lethal 3-point option and someone that is going to grab 6+ boards per game. He's Utah's best natural scorer. If Loveridge comes off of the bench again, it'll be Dakari Tucker again in his spot. Chris Reyes may get the nod again at the power forward spot, but it feels like he's just holding it for Brekkott Chapman at this point. Reyes does a lot of dirty work, but now that we're into Pac 12 play, the Utes may want the scoring and athleticism of Chapman on the floor.
Advantage: Even

Center
The Trojans don't use much of a center with big-man Jovanovic more of a power forward.

The Utes, on the other hand, have the amazing freshman in Jakob Poeltl. While the young Austrian's game has come back to earth recently with a few pedestrian performances, he's still an extremely talented big man averaging close to a double-double while acting as a menace on the defensive end blocking shots and altering others. He should be able to control the paint against USC.
Advantage: Utah

Bench
Ogbe, Chapman, Tucker, Bachynski, Olsen, Kuzma, Wright. Utah is as deep as any team in the conference. They've got shooters, defenders, big men, and guys that do the dirty work. Quite the luxury.

Katin Reinhardt may come off of the bench, but he plays starter's minutes while averaging just under 11 points per game. Guard, and former Utah commit, Julian Jacobs averages 6 per game with big man Strahinja Gavrilovic averags 6.7 and 3 boards. The Trojans generally go about 9 deep.
Advantage: Utah

Breakdown
Let's be honest here, this is a pretty big mismatch. You've got a top 10 team in Utah playing at home against arguably the worst team in the Pac 12. USC lost at home by 15 to Army. That should say enough. There's more talent on the Southern Cal roster than last season, but it is young and inexperienced. Too much Delon Wright and too much depth from Utah should make this a comfortable victory to kick off Pac 12 play.

The Pick
Utah 76 USC 61

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