The USC Trojans, (17-7, 8-3) head to Tempe to take on Arizona State, (17-6, 5-6) on Thursday — the only matchup between the two teams this season.
Here are five things to know about USC before tip-off:
Fall from grace
After starting the season No. 10 in the AP Poll, USC quickly found itself slipping down and out. The Trojans dropped three straight non-conference games to Texas A&M, SMU and Oklahoma, all of whom were unranked at the time. A week and a half later, a loss to Princeton completely ruined their chances of making back into the top-25.
Bob Cousy award finalist
Jordan McLaughlin, a senior guard for the Trojans, was recently named a finalist for the Bob Cousy award, for the nation’s top point guard. McLaughlin is third in the nation with 7.7 assists per game, and second in the Pac-12 in steals. A matchup between two top point guards will take place Thursday as ASU’s Tra Holder was also named a finalist for the award.
Strong conference play
After starting poorly in non-conference play, USC really turned it around when it came time to face off against Pac-12 opponents. The Trojans are 8-3 in conference play, good enough for second place, but are coming fresh off a loss to rival, UCLA. A tough road trip against both Arizona teams will prove to see if USC has what it takes to be a top team in the Pac-12.
Since McLaughlin is averaging nearly eight APG, someone must be scoring a bunch of points. Well, the offense has four scorers averaging in double figures, including: Chimezie Metu (15.8), Bennie Boatwright (14.4), McLaughlin (12.3) and Elijah Stewart (11.4). Overall, the team is averaging nearly 80 PPG while giving up only 71.4 on defense.
Undefined starting rotation
The Trojans have seven different players who have started a game this season. McLaughlin is the only player to start every single game this season, despite all seven players logging minutes in at least 20 games this season. Metu, Boatwright, McLaughlin, Stewart and Jonah Mathews are getting the most playing time though, as they’re all averaging over 26 minutes per game this season.
The Trojans and Sun Devils tip-off Thursday at 9:00 p.m. MST at the Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe.