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ASU Basketball: USC preview

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Can ASU finally get a road sweep?

NCAA Basketball: UCLA at Southern California Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

USC

Record: 11-8, (4-2)

VS ASU last year: 0-1

NET Ranking: 98

Points scored: 78.1 (72 of 353)

Points allowed: 72.6 (213th of 353)

The 2019 USC Trojans basketball team fits the narrative of Pac-12 hoops this season; inconsistent. Although, as they head into Saturday’s bout with the Arizona State Sun Devils, USC is probably playing the best they’ve this season.

The Trojans have won six of their last eight games, with their only two losses coming on the Oregon road trip a few weeks back. Part of the reason for the better play is the Trojans are returning to health. As Bobby Hurley commented earlier in the week, “USC has dealt with a lot too with injuries and different things we’ve dealt with too, but I’m not sure to the extent they have.”

Only junior forward Nick Rakocevic, junior guard Jonah Mathews and redshirt senior guard Shaqquan Aaron have played all 19 games this season for the Trojans. Freshman guard Kevin Porter Jr., a potential high NBA draft pick, missed time with injury before serving a short suspension. Porter Jr. returned against Arizona on Thursday and should play against ASU on Saturday.

Senior forward Bennie Boatwright missed a large part of last season due to a left patella injury, he’s starting to come into his own six games in conference play. Since Pac-12 games started, Boatwright has averaged over 20 points and seven rebounds a game. He can also get hot from three or take over scoring as a whole when he dropped 37 points in the loss to Oregon State.

As danger as Boatwright can be, Rakocevic standing at 6’11” is taller than any of ASU’s eight-man rotation. The junior has had a double-double in the Trojans’ past two wins, while also scoring a combined 58 points for USC against UCLA and Arizona. When Rakocevic scores 21 or more, USC is 5-0, despite Boatwright being more explosive, containing Rakocevic may be more important for ASU.