Tipoff between the Beavers and the Trojans is tonight at 7:30, and while you anxiously await to (listen on the radio?), we bring in Conqest Chronicles to talk a little bit about the Boys from Troy.
BTD: Did anyone around the program expect USC to have such a breakout year this season? What has turned this team around the most?
Conquest Chronicles: 'SC's emergence as a contender for the Pac-10 came a full year before expected. Mayo signing put us in the spotlight, and our freshman this year have shown they're no slouches. Taj Gibson's play in the paint, as well as the depth of our guards off the bench has been huge. That, combined with Nick Young and Gabe Pruitt's experience on the court have given us the endurance to run with the quick teams, and the patience to grind it out against the ball-control teams.
Tim Floyd's emphasis on defense has put the team in a position to win almost every game this season. The growth of our man-to-man coverage is what has really driven us into the Pac-10 title race.
BTD: Oregon State players and fans alike still have memories of that 45 point loss you guys handed us earlier in the year. But, If the Beavers are able to pull out a win tomorrow, how will they do it?
Conquest Chronicles: They'll need to get big play out of their big men, and limit Taj Gibson. If Taj is on, the offense runs smoothly, because he can force a double team. The men on the outside shoot well from the arc, so if they get open looks, the points will be up on the board. If the Beavers can contain Taj, then they'll have a much easier time containing the Trojan offense.
BTD: What Trojan player could surprise Oregon State the most on Thursday?
Conquest Chronicles: Daniel Hackett has been a beast off the bench, and plays some of the best defense in the conference. Although he's not likely to put a ton of points on the board, he was absolutely clutch against Cal, scoring the go-ahead lay-up. He can't manage the game quite like Gabe Pruitt or Lodrick Stewart yet, but there is no defensive drop-off, and he's definitely a baller. Keep your eye out for him.
BTD: With the great year you guys are having, what do you expect the Trojans to do in the Pac-10 tourney, and possibly beyond?
Conquest Chronicles: Based upon how we've done so far, its impossible to take anything for granted in a conference as competitive as the Pac-10. That said, we're hoping to win at least 1 game in the Pac-10 tourney, which is certainly feasible. That, with a .500+ record in conference play will hopefully qualify us for the NCAA tournament with a pretty decent seeding, where we're hoping for a win against a decent mid/low-major program. We're keeping our fingers crossed though...anything can happen.
BTD: Your prediction for the game.
Conquest Chronicles: 'SC uses the home-crowd advantage of the Galen center to get out to a quick lead, although they start letting up towards the end of regulation. They still close the game with a win though, keeping it to a slow-paced, low-possession game: USC 73 - OSU 62