USC Trojans (9-6)
- Head Coach: Andy Enfield (6th Season)
- Top Performer: Bennie Boatwright (15.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG)
- Points For: 79.3 PPG (T-67th)
- Points Against: 73.1 PPG (T-224th)
- Last Game/Streak: 77-76 Win v. Stanford (4W)
After an incredibly rough 5-6 start to the season - which left some critics wondering how comfortable head coach Andy Enfield should be in the City of Angels - USC has magically turned things around over the course of their past four games and have started Pac-12 Conference play on the right foot.
However, their hot-and-cold personality leaves questions lingering about this Trojans group as they head to Corvallis on Thursday night.
The biggest unknown for USC seems to come in the back-court at the moment, where since star freshman Kevin Porter Jr. was sidelined with a thigh injury, the group has never looked quite the same. Two veteran guards in Jonah Matthews (12.1 PPG) and Derryck Thornton (9.6 PPG) have both been good - but not great - and the surrounding pieces in Shaqquan Aaron (9.8 PPG) have just not had the breakout campaigns that they were expected to.
It’s part of the reason why even in an up for grabs Pac-12, it’s hard to gauge how much of a contender Andy Enfield and company will become.
Up-front, USC can contend with just about anyone in the country between the skill and grit of the Bennie Boatwright (15.8 PPG) and Nick Rakocevic (15.7 PPG) duo, who are playing as well as they ever have together during their time on campus. Both are coming off a 22+ point performances in a crucial win over Stanford, where they also snagged a combined 17 boards and shot a blistering and efficient 18 for 29 from the field.
It could be said that their improved play is the biggest reason for the turnaround of the squad.
However, on Thursday night, recent trends will be thrown aside as when the heart of conference play sets in, just about anything can happen on any night.
The Beavers should be confident on their home-court, having just knocked off rival Oregon on the road for the first time since 2012, but they will have to avoid the big-game hangover and prepare themselves accordingly for this potential season-defining contest.
Player To Watch
Bennie Boatwright (Senior): The 6’ 10” senior is on an absolute tear as of late, having averaged 19.5 points per contest over his last four games. Over that same span, the USC star has shot 22-40 from the field and knocked down six three-pointers as well. Boatwright’s inside-outside versatility could give the Beavers some major headaches on Thursday night.
- Date: Thursday, January 10th
- Time: 8:00 PM PT
- Location: Gill Coliseum (Corvallis, OR)
- Coverage: ESPNU