USC Trojans at (7) Arizona Wildcats (-23, 135.5 o/u)
With eight wins in their last night games, the No. 7 Arizona Wildcats (22-3, 10-2 Pac-12) are rolling. Tonight, they’ll look to move half a game on Utah for top spot in the Pac-12 when they host the USC Trojans (10-15, 2-11 Pac-12) at the McKale Center in Tucson (9:00 p.m. Eastern).
After suffering a surprise setback against Arizona State, the Wildcats have rebounded with 20+-point road wins over Washington and Washington State. On Sunday, the Wildcats smashed the Cougars 86-59 with Brandon Ashley, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and Kaleb Tarczewski each scoring 17 points.
“We had a tremendous first half,” said Arizona coach Sean Miller. “We did what we needed to do in the second half. We weren’t going to beat them by 30 in the second half.”
Tonight, Arizona will face a skilled, but inexperienced USC squad looking to get over the hump.
The Trojans are dead-last in the Pac-12 and lost nine straight conference games before downing Oregon State, 68-55, on the weekend. Elijah Stewart scored 19 points to lead USC.
“I was really happy to see a young guy like Elijah show he can come out and compete at this level in the Pac-12,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “He showed the type of skillset we need in all of our players today.”
The Trojans have lost a number of tight games this year – including five Pac-12 games by five or fewer points. But they simply haven’t had the veteran leadership to pick up wins.
After losing to Oregon last week, coach Enfield recognized that it isn’t his team’s hustle that is holding it back; it’s concentration and fundamentals; “We’ve been competing in every game … We missed six or seven layups and it deflated our guys. We missed easy shots and Oregon made its shots. It’s hard to beat a good team when you can’t make easy shots,” Enfield told the AP.
USC is 1-5 ATS in its last six road games against Arizona (and 0-5 SU in the last five). The total has gone over in four of those six.
Look for the youthful – but skilled – Trojans to keep it closer than 23 points.
(Photo credit: Neon Tommy (Flickr: vsUtahfull-15) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)