(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)
Winning four of its last six games, Arizona State looks to carry their momentum into Sunday against the struggling USC Trojans, who are 10-16 overall and 2-12 in conference. In their last game, which resulted in a loss to No. 7 Arizona, the Trojans suffered an 87-57 loss. Their leading scorer was freshman forward Malik Martin with 15 points off of the bench.
ASU, on the other hand, dealt UCLA a loss on James Harden-night, by a score of 68-66. Sophomore forward Savon Goodman had another dominant performance in the paint as he scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
USC will be without their freshman guard Jordan McLaughlin for the second straight game with a shoulder injury. McLaughlin leads the team in minutes and assists, as well as second in scoring.
Keys to the Game
Free Throw Shooting
Whether this ends up being a close game or not, the Sun Devils need to win the battle from the charity stripe against a Trojan squad that has had similar troubles this year. ASU, shooting 66.4 percent from the line this year, is slightly better than the Trojans, who come into the game making free throws at a rate of 64 percent.
Make USC Score from the Outside
With sophomore forward Nikola Jovanovic standing tall in the middle for the Trojans, they find their most efficient offensive player in that position as well. Jovanovic averages 12.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, with a shooting percentage of 52 percent. On the flipside, the Trojans only shoot 30.9 percent of the year from three-point range compared to ASU’s 36.7 percent.
Keep Savon Goodman Rolling
With that being said, to keep USC from scoring a majority of their points in the paint, sophomore forward Savon Goodman has to keep up his high level of play he’s shown for the past several games. He has corralled at least 10 rebounds in the last three games, and has been in double-digit scoring in three of the last four. With Jovanovic being USC biggest interior threat, it is likely that junior forward Eric Jacobsen will be matched up with him, and Goodman will likely guard sophomore forward Darion Clark, who is averaging around six rebounds per game, but has only reached double digits in rebounding once in the last nine games. Given these circumstances, Savon has to keep playing good, man.
Although ASU has dropped some games that the Sun Devils probably should have won this year on the road, they rarely disappoint at Wells Fargo Arena. Given the way they’re playing at this point in the season, ASU should win and has the potential to dominate with the home crowd behind them.