After a well-earned win over UCLA Friday night, Arizona heads into its matchup against USC on a four game win streak. Sitting at 7-4 in the Pac-12, Arizona is looking for a home sweep of the LA schools it was swept by back in January when it faces USC at 6 p.m. AZ time on FS1.
USC is in a spot few saw predicted for them heading into the season, competing for the regular season conference title and currently ranked 23rd in the country. Having more conference wins this year than in the previous two seasons combined, USC is looking bound to return to the NCAA Tournament, which it hasn’t appeared in since 2011.
Matching up against a Trojan team that is 2nd in the Pac 12 in scoring with 84 points per game, Arizona will attempt to stifle their offense with a fully healthy lineup. In the first matchup between these teams, a 103-101 4-overtime thriller, USC benefitted from Allonzo Trier having to play (or having the courage to play) the overtime periods with a broken hand. With a healthy roster, Arizona will be looking forward to repaying the favor and evening up the season series.
In that January tilt, Arizona was boosted by big games from Trier, Zeus, and York. For Ryan Anderson, the reigning Conference Player of the Week, the Wildcats will depend on a better outing from him this go around (8 pts, 5 rebounds in first matchup). Arizona was unable to corral sophomore sniper Elijah Stewart last time, as he exploded for 27 points off the bench. Arizona will look to control the three point line Sunday evening to help quench any momentum the Trojans are able to gain.
USC is long and athletic, but Arizona still has a sizeable advantage in the frontcourt with Anderson, Zeus, and Ristic going against smaller counterparts. Arizona’s guards will focus on slowing down USC point guard Jordan McLaughlin, who controls the tempo for the Trojans and is their primary playmaker. Aiming to control McLaughlin and Stewart, Arizona will elsewhere need to keep freshman Bennie Boatwright from going off, as he is apt to do in USC wins.
Arizona is still competing for the regular season conference title and a high seed in the big dance. In a weekend that saw an official visit from Rawle Alkins, finishing off the weekend with a bang and a big home sweep would give the Wildcats much momentum, both for themselves and in the polls, heading into their mid-week bout against ASU next week.