(Photo: ASU Athletics)
After its first victory in Pac-12 play against Washington State, Arizona State (12-3) is looking to have a repeat performance against the University of Southern California on Thursday night at the Galen Center in Los Angeles, CA.
USC (9-5) is coming off a 107-73 loss against UCLA in their Pac-12 opener last Sunday afternoon.
First-year USC head coach Andy Enfield experienced his first game against UCLA and had very little to be proud about. After the game, Enfield cited UCLA’s ability to shoot the ball with ease and accuracy was one of the main reasons UCLA rattled his team.
7-foot-2 senior Omar Oraby is a huge part of the USC team, being the tallest player and a very productive rebounder on the team. Oraby has good footwork and has the ability to score in the low post so against ASU, it will be the job of senior center Jordan Bachynski to slow Oraby down and throw off his game.
Junior guard Byron Wesley is the leading scorer and rebounder on the team, averaging 17.3 points and 7.4 rebounds. Wesley led all scorers against UCLA with 21 points.
While only a freshman, guard Julian Jacobs is another major piece for USC. Jacobs only averages 7.3 points a game, but he averages 4.4 rebounds and also has a team-high 60 assists on the season.
Averaging 10.2 points and leading the team with 18 steals, Pe’Shon Howard is another key component to the USC offense. The senior guard is not only quick with his hands on defense, but he also is second to Jacobs on the team in dishing out assists (59).
Keys to Victory:
The Sun Devils need to be consistent. It’s a given at this point in the season, but still, ASU is struggling to constantly find its rhythm, right from the beginning of the game every time out. The team can’t depend on coming back and playing its best in the second half. The Sun Devils must attack early and make USC uncomfortable from the beginning.
2. Turnovers and fast breaks
Both teams turn the ball over. The Sun Devils have a slight advantage over the Trojans here, but both teams make mistakes and it’s which team fully capitalizes off those mistakes that will build momentum throughout the game and play with confidence. ASU averages 10.5 turnovers per game while USC averages 14.0 turnovers per game. Coming off an embarrassing loss to UCLA, the Trojans will most likely come out ready to prove themselves not only to fans, but most importantly to their head coach. Expect Enfield to get on his players early and key in on a high-tempo game.
3. Offensive power
ASU has seen players from Carson, to Marshall to McKissic to Bachynski step up in games. It’s time all of them got into their offensive rhythm and kept that rhythm going throughout the night. The team can’t compete at a high level without multiple players showing up and playing their best games. Against WSU, the Sun Devils struggled mightily from the field in the first half, shooting only 36 percent. The second half improved to 48 percent from the field, but shooting well in the second and not the first won’t always be able to save this team.
For the Sun Devils to pull off its second Pac-12 victory, they will have to take control of the paint. In doing so, they can make sure that USC doesn’t come out of the gates early with a strong scoring attack. If ASU gets down early, I don’t see a comeback happening against a Trojans team hungry for its first conference victory. The Sun Devils can come out and take the victory on USC’s home court, but poor shooting is not an option.
For the Trojans to come out on top, they will have to score early and focus on disrupting the Sun Devil offense. ASU has had on nights and off nights so far this season, and most of the off nights have been a product of poor shooting. If USC can alter shots and force the Sun Devils to shoot from outside, the Trojans may have a chance to pull out the win. ASU is capable of knocking down perimeter shots, but it’s better than giving ASU the easy two points off of layups. USC can win, but it has to be a team effort, not just all Wesley.
Contact this author via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @sammyjade18