Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Sports Gaming Monitor

MBB-FBS: Arizona Wildcats (24-5) at USC Trojans (21-8)

On March 2 at 8:00 p.m., the USC Trojans (21-8, 13-5) will play the Arizona Wildcats (24-5, 13-5) at the Galen Center. The two teams are tied for second place in the Pac-12 standings. Dave Pasch and Bill Walton will be the game’s announcers on ESPN. In its last ten games, USC has won eight.

USC’S STELLAR STRETCH: Over the past four seasons, USC has won a school-record 94 games (22 in 2020, 25 in 2021, 26 in 2022, and 21 in 2023). The school’s record for most consecutive seasons with 20 or more wins is four, breaking the mark set by three consecutive seasons from 2016 to 2018 with 20 or more wins.

WINNING WAYS: USC’s 73 wins over the previous three seasons ranked third among Power 6 basketball programs, behind only Kansas (83 wins) and Baylor (81 wins), which won the NCAA title last year. Additionally, USC ranked 13th out of all Power 6 conference teams with 160 wins over the previous seven seasons.

Enfield has won his 200th title as head coach of the USC program. In his tenth season at USC, Andy Enfield has a record of 204-126. He won his 200th game against Washington on February 4. Enfield’s win total is fourth on USC’s all-time wins list, behind only Forrest Twogood (251 wins), Bob Boyd (216 wins), and Sam Barry (260 wins). Enfield has a record of 245-154, including his two seasons as the head coach at FGCU (2012-13).

Ahead of Arizona, the No. 8/No. The 9 Arizona Wildcats (24-5, 13-5) are coming off a difficult home loss to Arizona State on February 25, when Desmond Cambridge Jr. of the Sun Devils hit a 60-footer at the buzzer. The Wildcats lost 89-88. The Wildcats are led by Azuolas Tubelis, who averages 19.6 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Five players from Arizona have scored double digits. On January 19, Arizona defeated USC 81-66 in Tucson, Arizona. Arizona leads USC 45-72* in the all-time series (1 win and 1 loss were later vacated due to a NCAA penalty; the original record was 46-73).

Arizona State Sun Devils (20-9, 11-7) on the deck — USC will play the Arizona State Sun Devils (20-9, 11-7) on March 4 at 8:00 p.m. at the Galen Center. Arizona State defeated Arizona 89-88 on February 25 and will play UCLA on March 2 before facing USC. The Sun Devils have won three consecutive games on the road, including four of their last five contests. With a 14.3 scoring average, guard Desmond Cambridge Jr. leads Arizona State. On January 21, USC defeated Arizona State 77-69 in Tempe, Arizona. Arizona State is Arizona State’s last opponent, but USC has won its last six games and is 60-42* ahead of Arizona State in the series history.

LET’S GET STARTED WITH THE DEFENSE: On November 30, USC held California to a 27.7 percent shooting percentage, its lowest mark since holding Stanford to a 25.4 percent shooting percentage on March 3, 2021. On February 9, USC let Oregon make 53.8% of its shots, making it the only team this season to let Oregon make more than 50% of its shots against USC. In 17 of its 29 games this season, USC has limited its opponents to under 40% shooting. This season, USC is holding its opponents to a 38.9 shooting percentage—eighth in the nation. USC’s defense has held opponents to a 2nd-place 38.8 field goal percentage over the past four seasons.

LEADERS OF THE PAC: USC has finished third among Pac-12 teams in wins during the regular season for the past six seasons (since the 2017-18 season). Through games on February 23, USC is 73-39, Arizona is 74-38, and UCLA is 76-35 in that stretch. Oregon at 68-42 and Colorado at 61-52 would be the next two teams.

ENJOYING THE HOME COOKING: USC is 14-1 this season at the Galen Center, losing to FGCU in the season opener on Nov. 7, but winning each of the next 14 games. Since the Trojans won their first 15 games at the Galen Center in the 2015-16 season, USC’s 14-game home winning streak is the longest in a single season. Additionally, it is tied for the third-longest streak of home victories in school history.

PETERSON PROVIDES A LITTLE OF EVERYTHING: Along with Penn State’s Jalen Pickett, guard Drew Peterson is one of two Power 6 conference players averaging at least 13.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game this season. In each game, Peterson is averaging 14.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 4.7 assists. He has scored in double figures in 24 games, including a career-high 30 points against Cal on February 16. He also has more than one steal per game on average.

JEKYLL & HYDE FROM AWAY — On Feb. 16, when USC played California, it hit 52.2% of its 3-pointers. This was the school’s highest shooting percentage from beyond the arc since it hit 53.8% when it played Washington State on Feb. 20, 2022. The following game, on Feb. 18 against Stanford, USC hit a season-high 13 3-pointers. USC has made at least 38% from three-point range in 12 games this season. USC has made 46.7 percent of its 3-point attempts in those 12 games (119-for-255), while it has averaged 23.2 percent (65-for-280) from beyond the arc in the other 17 games.

When fully loaded, USC is 8-1 in games where all of its rotational players are available. Five victories over Pac-12 teams in the top six belong to that stretch. Arizona, which is 34-2 in its last 36 home games, was USC’s only loss when the entire roster was available. USC forward Vincent Iwuchukwu missed the first 16 games of the season, while forward guard Joshua Morgan (right ankle) and left foot guard Reese Dixon-Waters missed four games before returning against Stanford on February 18. On February 2, at Washington State, both players suffered injuries.

The Johnson Jump: Kobe Johnson, a sophomore, is leading the nation with 65 steals and averaging 8.8 points and 4.9 rebounds this season. Last year Johnson arrived at the midpoint of 1.2 places and 1.0 bounce back while playing in 27 games. In addition, Johnson ranks fourth on the team in blocks (13) and third in assists (74). He did not score in double figures in his first 35 games until Dec. 4, when he scored 17 points against Oregon State. In 11 of his last 21 games, he has scored at least double digits, averaging 10.1 points per game. His 21 points in the game against Washington on February 4 are his career high. This season, he has had at least five rebounds 16 times. He missed his first seven attempts at the three-point line this season, but he has made 26 of his last 63 attempts, resulting in a 41.3 percent shooting percentage from beyond the arc.

BOOGIE DOWN, BUT NOT FOR LONG Senior guard Boogie Ellis scored nine points on Feb. 11 against Oregon State, snapping a 14-game scoring streak. He then scored 22 points against California on February 16, a career-high 33 points against Stanford on February 18, and 21 points against Colorado on February 23. In the last 18 games, he has scored 344 points on average, including a career-high 31 points against UCLA on January 26. On December 18, he started his streak with a career-high 28 points against Auburn. With a 17.2 scoring average, 71 made three-pointers and 102 made free throws, Ellis leads USC. With 42 steals, he also ranks second among Trojans. He now ranks 17th on USC’s all-time list with 127 made 3-pointers as a Trojan.

Finding their stride: Over the past ten games, USC has hit 47.5 percent of its shots (266-for-560). In that stretch, USC has also made 7.9 three-pointers per game, compared to 5.5 attempts from beyond the arc in the first 19 games.

USC has scored 82.0 points per game over its last four games (328 total) and 81.3 points per game over its last six wins (488 total).

FOUR SCORE: USC has won its last four conference opponents by a combined 79 points, defeating California (97-60) at home on February 16, Stanford (85-75) at home on February 18, Colorado (84-65) on the road on February 23, and Utah (62-49) on the road on February 25. Since beating UCLA (55-22), California (60-32), California (36-26), and UCLA (43-33) by a combined 81 points from February 15 to March 1, 1935, this is USC’s largest margin of victory over conference opponents in four consecutive games. In the 2002 season, USC won four consecutive conference games by a margin of double digits for the first time.

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