The Washington State Cougars have pushed the pace often in the first year under head coach Ernie Kent, and they will be facing a USC Trojans team that will be looking to do the same on Wednesday night (7 p.m., Pac-12 Networks). The Trojans have been the fastest-paced team in Pac-12 play, but they've been far from the highest scoring.
USC sits at 11th in offensive efficiency against conference teams, scoring a paltry 92 points per 100 possessions. Shooting is the primary culprit for the offensive ineptitude, with the Trojans 11th in 2-point percentage and 10th in 3-point percentage.
But WSU has allowed teams to go above and beyond offensively in Pac-12 play, as the Cougs are last in defensive efficiency and have opponents have shot really well, particularly from inside the arc (opponents are 54 percent on 2s).
The Trojans make their living on 2s, taking the 11th-lowest percentage of their shots from three. Nationally, USC is well above average in percentage of shot attempts at the rim and in shooting percentage at the rim. Andy Enfield's squad's only real offensive strength is its ability to get inside.
That's been a point of struggle for WSU. The Cougars allow opponents to take and make shots at the rim at above average rates. USC could see its offense get on track inside the paint with WSU in town.
While the Trojans could spend a lot of time at the rim, don't expect the same for the free throw line. USC is second-worst in the league in free throw rate, while the Cougars are fifth-best at free throw rate allowed. At least when the Southern Cal has the ball, this shouldn't be the whistle-fest that we saw in WSU-UW.
But WSU does continue to be effective at getting to the free throw line when it has the ball. That will be tested against a USC defense that is third-best in the conference at preventing free throws.
But like WSU, USC prevents free throws by just not being close enough to the offensive player to foul. The Trojans are allowing Pac-12 teams to shoot better than 50 percent on 2-pointers. Southern Cal does feature a few good shot blockers, so there may be some resistance, but if the Cougs attack the rim they should find success.
The real defensive weakness for USC is the defensive glass - the Trojans have allowed opponents to snag offensive boards at the highest rate in the league. Unfortunately for WSU, it has been the worst offensive rebounding team in Pac-12 play.
Overall, the pace will provide plenty of possessions to see WSU's above-average offense tangle with USC's above-average defense. There will also be equal time given to watching the Cougs' horrendous defense pillow fight with the Trojans inept offense. So stick around for some decent basketball on one end and some...not decent basketball on the other.