USC Trojans (14-6)
- Latest BTD Pac-12 Power Rankings: 4th Overall (13-6)
- Head Coach: Andy Enfield (5th Season)
- Top Performer: Chimezie Metu (16.8 PPG, 7.3 RPG)
- Points For: 80.8 PPG (48th)
- Points Against: 72.1 PPG (T-179th)
- Last Game/Streak: 75-70 Win at Oregon (3W)
Oregon State’s most recent victory over UCLA may have gotten the Beavers back on the right track, but continuing their newfound success will be the key now for Oregon State. Head coach Wayne Tinkle’s group simply can’t settle for an 11-7 record. The Beavers need to keep striking while the iron is hot.
On Saturday, Oregon State welcomes USC to Gill Coliseum, for a chance to make it a home sweep of the Los Angeles-based squads. Unfortunately for the Beavers, it doesn’t look like the Trojans have the same plan in mind.
After some lofty pre-season expectations fell flat for USC and even the clean slate of conference play couldn’t help their cause, the Trojans slowly look to be figuring things out as one of the Pac-12’s most intriguing teams. USC has won their last three games over Colorado, Utah and Oregon by an average of 11.3 points per contest, while still remaining as a top-fifty offensive team nationally.
And they’re recent winning ways is keeping their NCAA Tournament hopes alive, at least for now.
While in the end, USC will probably find their way comfortably into the tournament field, a setback against a non-tournament squad like Oregon State is the type of scenario that head coach Andy Enfield knows his team needs to avoid. In a way, it almost makes Saturday’s game all that more daunting for the Trojans. They simply can’t afford a slip-up at a time like this.
So sure, USC will try to find their steadiness behind the front-court combo of Chimezie Metu (16.8 PPG) and Bennie Boatwright (15.6 PPG) but the real deciding factor in this one could come on the perimeter, where the match-up between the brothers Thompson for Oregon State and USC’s Jordan McLaughlin (13.1 PPG) and Elijah Stewart (10.5 PPG) could be tipping point in the game.
But then again, you just never know with this Oregon State team. Could the Beavers have another miraculous upset hidden in their bag of tricks?
Players To Watch
Chimezie Metu (JR - Forward): The 6’ 11”, 225-pounder took a massive leap a season ago, as he emerged from the depths of the roster into one of USC’s most gifted talents. Chimezie Metu has continued to improve this season and is likely headed to be an all-league selection, pending the Trojans don’t begin to forget where their bread is buttered. When Metu is going at full steam, this is a difficult USC squad to slow down.
Bennie Boatwright (JR - Forward): When healthy and firing on all cylinders, Metu and Bennie Boatwright probably stand just a notch above Oregon State’s “Eubanks-Tinkle” front-court, as the best all-around forward duo in the league. And while that’s more of a compliment to the Trojans than a knock on the Beavers, there’s no mistaking where the focus on Saturday’s night game will be. All eyes should be on the interior battle between a wealth of gifted big men.
Jordan McLaughlin (SR - Guard): Point guard Jordan McLaughlin has taken his fair share of lumps over the course of his USC career and with one last chance to make it right, the veteran ball-handler seems to be more comfortable now than ever before. More times than not, McLaughlin is making the right plays for both himself and his teammates, while also emerging as the strongest leader on the court for this group.
- Date: Saturday, January 20th
- Time: 5:00 PM PT
- Location: Gill Coliseum (Corvallis, OR)
- Coverage: Pac-12 Network