Tonight's matchup pits the Devils against the USC Trojans, who at 15-8 are on the tournament bubble according to Lunardi's Bracketology. Lets look at their starting lineup from the Arizona game, and contrast it with our likely starting lineup tonight.
|USC Trojans||ASU Sun Devils|
G: Dwight Lewis, 6'5"
G: Derek Glasser, 6'1"
|G: Daniel Hackett, 6'5"||G: Ty Abbott, 6'3"|
|F: DeMar DeRozan, 6'7"||G: James Harden, 6'5"|
|F: Keith Wilkinson, 6'10"||F: Rihards Kuksiks, 6'6"|
|F: Taj Gibson, 6'9"||F: Jeff Pendergraph, 6'9"|
Just looking at the matchups, you can see that there is a very obvious height advantage for the Trojans. This is, of course, a fairly common problem that ASU faces, night in and night out. We have been able to neutralize height with our zone, but you have to wonder if the big height difference was a factor in the last matchup, which USC won 61-49.
Daniel Hackett, James Harden's tormentor, is coming off a strong game against UA where he dropped 20 points and collected 6 rebounds.
DeMar DeRozan also scored 20, while Dwight Lewis added 21. Keith Wilkinson was nonexistent, and I wouldn't be surprised if Leonard Washington takes his place in the starting lineup tonight.
I am sure SBNation's Conquest Chronicles will be covering the game later on this afternoon, so check that out for more about our competition.
So this is what USC should plan to see tonight: a crowd that is amped up and hungry for more success after Thursday's thrilling win. With an 8:00 PM MST start, the crowd just might be drunk, too.
What are the keys to the game?
Hackett Harden. If you can shut down James Harden in any way (keeping him under 10 points) like the game in Los Angeles, it will be a huge benefit. The role players proved they could score in bunches against UCLA, but they haven't shown any consistency in that kind of production. Force them to repeat their performance.
Pressure Glassman. Derek Glasser, while a competent and intelligent point guard, is not an athletic threat. If you pressure his ballhandling skills, he will cough up the ball a few times. Darren Collison was all over Glasser on Thursday, and the results were a net positive for the Bruins.
Home Court Advantage. Does the crowd play a role in the outcome of a basketball game? Look no further than Thursday, where an intense crowd gave the edge to the Sun Devils, feeding them energy at opportune times. If there is a good crowd tonight, the Devils will perform.
Have At It, Abbott. If Ty can chip in like he did against UCLA, when he dropped 12, collected some good rebounds and played solid defense, the pressure on Harden will be lessened and the team will truly benefit. Without his outside shooting threat, the defense collapses away from him and focuses even more on James.
Again, tipoff is 8:05 or so! Go DEVILS!