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MBB-FBS: USC Trojans (20-8) at Utah Runnin’ Utes (17-12)

FACING UTAH — The Utah Runnin’ Utes (17-12, 10-8) are coming off a 78-71 home loss to UCLA on Feb. 23, which dropped them to 12-4 at home this season. Senior center Branden Carlson leads four Utes scoring in double figures with a 16.3 average. USC defeated Utah 71-56 at the Galen Center on Jan. 14. USC trails 25-26 in the all-time series with Utah, but has won four games in-a-row against the Runnin’ Utes.

No. 7 ARIZONA ON DECK — USC’s next game will be vs. the No. 7 Arizona Wildcats (24-4, 13-4) at the Galen Center on March 2 at 8:00 p.m. Arizona will host Arizona State on Feb. 25 before traveling to Los Angeles. Azuolas Tubelis leads the Wildcats, averaging 19.6 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Arizona has five players scoring in double figures. Arizona defeated USC 81-66 in Tucson, Ariz on Jan. 19. USC trails in the all-time series with Arizona 45-72* (1 win and 1 loss later vacated due to NCAA penalty, original record 46-73).

IT STARTS WITH DEFENSE — USC held California to 27.7 shooting on Nov. 30, the lowest by an opponent since holding Stanford to a 25.4 shooting percentage on March 3, 2021. USC allowed Oregon to make 53.8 percent of its shots on Feb. 9, the only opponent this season to make more than 50 percent of its shots against USC. USC has held its opponent to under 40 percent shooting in 16 of its 28 games this season. USC is holding its opponents to a 39.1 shooting percentage this season, 10th in the country. Over the last four seasons, USC’s defense has held the opposition to 38.9 FG percentage, 3rd in the country.

LEADERS OF THE PAC — USC is third in conference regular season wins among Pac-12 teams for the past six seasons (since the 2017-18 season). USC is 72-39, Arizona is 74-37, while UCLA is 75-35 in that stretch, through games of Feb. 23. Next up would be Oregon at 67-42 and Colorado at 61-51.

PETERSON PROVIDING A LITTLE OF EVERYTHING — Guard Drew Peterson is one of two players in a Power 6 conference (Jalen Pickett of Penn State) averaging at least 13.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game this season. Peterson is averaging 14.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. He scored a career-high 30 points vs. Cal on Feb. 16 and has 23 games scoring in double figures. He also averages more than a steal a game.

JEKYLL & HYDE FROM WAY OUTSIDE — USC made 52.2 percent of its 3-pointers vs. California on Feb. 16, its highest shooting percentage from beyond the arc since making 53.8 percent vs. Washington State on Feb. 20, 2022. USC then made a season-best 13 3-pointers vs. Stanford on Feb. 18. USC now has 11 games this season making at least 38 percent from 3-point range. In those 11 games USC has made 46.6 percent of its 3-pointers (108-for-232), while it has averaged 23.2 percent from beyond the arc in the other 17 games (65-for-280).

WHEN FULLY LOADED… — USC owns a 7-1 record in games this season it has all of its rotational players available. Included in that stretch is four wins over teams in the top five in the Pac-12 standings. USC’s one loss when the entire rotation of players was available was at Arizona, where Arizona is 34-1 in its last 35 home games. Forward Vincent Iwuchukwu missed USC’s first 16 games this season and forward Joshua Morgan (right ankle) and guard Reese Dixon-Waters (left foot) missed the 4 games before returning on Feb. 18 vs. Stanford. Both players were injured vs. Washington State on Feb. 2.

9 TO 10 — When Oziyah Sellers scored a career-best 11 points vs. California on Feb. 16, he became the ninth Trojan this season to have at least one game of scoring 10 or more points.

THE JOHNSON JUMP — Sophomore Kobe Johnson is averaging 8.7 points and 4.9 points, while ranking 17th in the country with 62 steals this season. Last year Johnson averaged 1.2 points and 1.0 rebounds while playing in 27 games. Johnson is also third on the team in assists (74) and blocks (13). He did not score in double figures in his first 35 career games until scoring a 17 points vs. Oregon State on Dec. 4. He has reached double figures in scoring in 10 of his last 20 games and has averaged 10.0 points in that stretch. His career high for points is 21 scored vs. Washington on Feb. 4. He has recorded 5 or more rebounds 16 times this season. He began the season missing his first 7 three-point attempts, but has made 22 of his last 56 for a 39.3 shooting percentage from beyond the arc in that stretch.

BOOGIE DOWN, BUT NOT FOR LONG – Senior guard Boogie Ellis scored 9 points at Oregon State on Feb. 11, snapping a 14-game streak of scoring in double figures. He then followed up that game with 22 points vs. California on Feb. 16, a career high 33 points vs. Stanford on Feb. 18 and 21 at Colorado on Feb. 23. He has averaged 19.3 points the last 17 games (328 total), including scoring a then-career-high 31 points vs. UCLA on Jan. 26. He began his streak by scoring a then career-best 28 points vs. Auburn on Dec. 18. Ellis leads USC with a 17.3 scoring average and leads the team with 67 three-pointers made and 102 free throws made. He is also second among Trojans with 42 steals. He now has 123 3-pointers made as a Trojan, 17th on USC’s all-time list.

FINDING THEIR STROKE — USC has made 48.0 percent of its shots the last 9 games (245-for-510). USC has also made 7.6 three-pointers per game in that stretch, as opposed to 5.5 makes from beyond the arc the first 19 games.

SCORING ON AN UPTICK — USC has averaged 88.7 points the last three games (266 total) and has averaged 85.2 points in its last five wins (426 total).

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