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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    The Breakdown:

    Backcourt

    USC plays with what is essentially a four-guard lineup. Nick Young and Gabe Pruitt combined for 46 points each of the last two times against the Wildcats in Los Angeles. Lodrick Stewart is more than adequate as well, scoring 18 points back on Jan. 18. UA guard Mustafa Shakur has struggled as of late (1-of-11 vs. Oregon) and he must still prove that his right ankle is completely healthy. Chase Budinger has moved into Jawann McClellan’s guard position and is capable of taking over as he showed on Saturday, but USC’s quantity of guards is still impressive.

    Frontcourt

    Jordan Hill played four minutes and turned the ball over three times in the first meeting. Don’t expect that to ever happen again. A more comfortable Hill, along with Marcus Williams and Ivan Radenovic, should be able to pound away if they so choose down low against USC’s lone big man Taj Gibson, who has a lot of game, but no one surrounding him.

    Bench

    McClellan always brings energy, but Arizona needs his production as well. Although he didn’t put up a lot of points on the Oregon trip, his two free throws sealed the deal at Oregon State and his late 3-pointer at Oregon helped bring the Wildcats back. Bret Brielmaier has been effective in the last two games, while no one on USC’s bench does much to stand out.

    X-Factor

    Does the X-factor ever have anything to do with something beside tempo? No. 19 Arizona has struggled against slow-paced teams, losing to the Trojans, UCLA, Washington State (twice) while struggling to shoot the basketball each time. Plus the Trojans specialize in turnovers, 12 in the first half alone last time. Arizona must make adjustments if it wants to force USC into playing a faster style.

    Prediction

    Arizona is “”climbing that hill again,”” as Budinger put it. The Wildcats have won three straight and are beginning to roll. Williams said the Wildcats are thinking “”payback”” as well. They played as poorly as they possibly could have in Los Angeles and still lost by only seven. In the last weekend in McKale Center, the Wildcats will at least secure a weekday win.

    81-76

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