Sometimes, sports are not very complicated and analysis is not akin to nuclear physics. Sometimes, the equation of a competition is achingly simple. Such is the case when the USC men’s basketball team hosts Washington State on Thursday night in the Galen Center.
Washington State made 15 of 31 3-point shots last February and nearly upset the Trojans, who were saved by a Boogie Ellis buzzer-beating bucket.
On New Year’s Day, Washington State scored 81 points against USC’s defense, torching the Trojans with 14 3-pointers on 29 attempts.
Do the quick math: Washington State is 29 of 60 on 3-pointers in its last two games against USC. Gee whiz, what could possibly be USC’s foremost key to victory against WSU on Thursday night?
No guesswork is needed here. No one has to search for complicated answers.
Washington State’s Justin Powell and Jabe Mullins both hit four 3-pointers on January 1 against USC. D.J. Rodman hit three triples and Andrej Jakimovski hit two. In addition to making all of those 3-point shots, the four main gunners for Wazzu all hit at least 50 percent of their 3-point shots.
One thing which is obviously different for USC today, compared to January 1, is that Vince Iwuchukwu is in the lineup, playing almost 20 minutes per game (17 versus UCLA). When he is on the floor as a rim protector, one would think — and hope — that USC can be much more aggressive at going over screens on the perimeter, aggressively playing the Cougars to deny them 3-point shots. If they want to drive to the rim, the Cougars will have to contend with Vince The Prince.
We will see how well USC can defend. A normally good defensive team under Andy Enfield has struggle with Wazzu’s 3-point-heavy offense. That’s your big game key on Thursday night in the Galen Center.
Pac-12 men’s basketball standings for January 30