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Oregon State Basketball: Opponent Preview - USC Trojans (Game 26)

On Saturday, the Beavers will try to leave Los Angeles with a least one win under the belt.

NCAA Basketball: Oregon at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

USC Trojans (15-12)

  • Head Coach: Andy Enfield (6th Season)
  • Top Performer: Bennie Boatwright (18.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG)
  • Points For: 76.8 PPG (T-79th)
  • Points Against: 72.1 PPG (198th)
  • Last Game/Streak: 66-49 Win v. Oregon (2W)

The Skinny

In a conference full of enigmas, few teams can be described as truly unpredictable as the USC Trojans have been this season.

Head coach Andy Enfield’s squad is one of the few programs who can claim three win streaks of at least three games throughout the 2018-2019 campaign, while also holding two losing streaks of at least three games as well. So, it’s no surprise in a way, that the Trojans come into Saturday’s clash at home against Oregon State, riding the tails of a back-to-back victories.

It’s a case of expect the unexpected when it comes to USC.

In Thursday’s win over Oregon, Enfield and company relied on the strong play of leading scorer and star forward Bennie Boatwright (18.5 PPG) once again, who finished the contest with six made three-pointers.

Boatwright, who is known for his inside-outside versatility, has been white hot from behind the arc as of late, having previously broken the school’s all-time record for made treys in a contest last Saturday against California, when he swished in ten (of only thirteen) three-point attempts. His current run of form is as good as any player in the country, leaving some to wonder how Oregon State will simply contain the likely first team all-league pick.

Next to Boatwright, big man Nick Rakocevic (15.5 PPG) has been a pleasant surprise for the Trojans, as one of the more undervalued interior talents in the whole country. Rakocevic’s regular steadiness, allows USC’s other options on the outside in Jonah Matthews (12.4 PPG), Kevin Porter Jr. (9.0 PPG), Shaqquan Aaron (8.5 PPG), Derryck Thornton (8.1 PPG) and Elijah Weaver (4.7 PPG) to pick-and-choose their spots on any given night, especially at the offensive end.

While it’s not for certain that Oregon State will implement another string of zone defenses (including a hot-and-cold 1-3-1 approach) to quell the Trojans attack, it is for certain that Beavers forward Tres Tinkle has to win the individual match-up between him and Boatwright on Saturday. If not, head coach Wayne Tinkle’s squad could see his week in the City of Angels quickly transform his program from second place in the Pac-12 to the middle of the pack.

Player To Watch

Nick Rakocevic (Junior) - Lost behind the gaudy headlines of Bennie Boatwright’s aforementioned strong run of play, is the stat-line that fellow Trojans’ forward Nick Rakocevic has displayed as of late. Chipping in 17 points on an efficient 8-11 showing from the field in a victory over Oregon, Rakocevic is proving his worth as one of the team’s most consistent (and regularly overlooked) talents. With such a perimeter-oriented roster, expect the 6’ 11”, 215-pounder from Chicago to bring a bruising, interior presence to USC’s depth chart on Saturday afternoon.

NCAA Basketball: Utah at Southern California
Big man Nick Rakocevic gives the Trojans a legitimate post-threat on a roster filled with perimeter-oriented pieces.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Game Info

  • Date: Saturday, February 23rd
  • Time: 3:00 PM PT
  • Location: Galen Center (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Coverage: Pac-12 Network