The WSU Cougars seek to build on their win over UW as they take on the USC Trojans at the beginning of their final road trip of the season.
The Trojans, who have NCAA tournament aspirations, are currently possessors of a four-game losing streak, which has seen them slide into bubble status after being perceived as being comfortably in the tournament. The first three of those losses, to a murderer’s row of Oregon, UCLA and Arizona, were perfectly understandable. The last one, though, was a one-point loss to moribund Arizona State. Not good.
In that sense, a loss to WSU at home would be somewhat disastrous for the Trojans, who I’m sure are keenly aware of this fact.
USC already possesses a win over the Cougs — 86-77 a month ago — in which WSU hung around for 30 minutes, trailing by just one with 10 minutes to go, but eventually faded down the stretch as the Trojans used a 16-6 run to more or less put the game away.
The USC defense isn’t great, so there should be points to be had for WSU tonight; the Cougs didn’t really struggle to score in Pullman. It was on the defensive end that WSU struggled in the first game.
The Cougs got absolutely destroyed inside in that game, as USC shot nearly 68 percent on its 2s, including 12-of-14 from inside the arc by Chimezie Metu, who scored a game high 29. If WSU is going to have a chance tonight, they’re simply going to have to do a much, much better job defending the interior.
Will that come at the expense of perimeter defense? The Trojans also feature a couple of assassins in Jordan McLaughlin and Elijah Stewart, each of whom is shooting around 40 percent from beyond the arc.
Defense likely holds the key in the one for WSU.
Kenpom.com predicts an 82-69 win for USC, with the Trojans winning 89 percent of the time.