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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    ‘Cats look to unlock USC’s pesky D

    LOS ANGELES -ÿThis season has unofficially been dubbed a coin flip for the USC men’s basketball team.

    Sure, they’ve got key returners (see Taj Gibson) and key newcomers (see DeMar DeRozan), but they also lost an overtime game to Oregon State, snapping the Beavers’ 23-game Pacific 10 Conference losing streak.

    Then once you think you’ve got the Trojans (11-5, 2-2 Pac-10) figured out, they’ll throw you for a loop. Thursday night’s 61-49 upset over No. 16 ASU in the Galen Center is a good example.

    But one thing remains constant about the Trojans: teams rarely know what kind of defense USC head coach Tim Floyd will throw its way.

    Arizona will try to figure the Trojans out Saturday night at 6 p.m. in the Galen Center.

    “”USC is a tough team to kind of know what to expect from them,”” said UA forward Chase Budinger. “”Coach Floyd does a good job mixing defenses up. You don’t know if they’re going to come out with man, zone, box-and-1, triangle-and-2.””

    UA interim head coach Russ Pennell said USC’s consistent inconsistency actually makes it easier for the Wildcats (11-6, 2-3) because of the Arizona’s play on its end of the floor.

    “”We expect everything,”” Pennell said. “”The way we play on offense, it doesn’t matter what (defense) he’s in. We know what to do. We won’t really have to change anything.””

    While the Wildcats remain relatively faithful to their 1-1-3 zone defense, with some man-to-man sprinkled in, Pennell sees the Trojans as somewhat of a reflection.

    “”I think both of our teams are going through the same thing, trying to find some guys to complement our focal players,”” he said. “”They may have a little deeper pool to draw from than we do, but I think there are some similarities.””

    Maybe the biggest similarities have been drawn between UA big man Jordan Hill and USC big man Gibson.

    Going into Thursday, Hill averaged 17.8 points and 12 rebounds per game, while Gibson was scoring 15.3 and pulling down 10.3 boards per game.

    But if you ask Hill, the comparison isn’t so close.

    “”Like I say in all my interviews, I don’t let players intimidate me,”” Hill said. “”I just go out and play my game, and help my team in any way possible to try to come out with a huge win.””

    As shown by Hill’s 22 points and eight boards against UCLA on Thursday, he is always up for a challenge.

    “”You want to be one of the best, you’ve got to play against the best and defeat the best,”” Pennell said. “”(Hill will) be challenged, there’s no question.””

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