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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Trojan War? Is trouble Bruin? Wildcats seek vengeance at home

Arizona men’s basketball will have a chance to gain vengeance this weekend as they host the Los Angeles schools in McKale Center on Friday and Sunday. The UCLA Bruins will come to town on Friday and the USC Trojans will visit Sunday.

Arizona and USC met up for a classic quadruple-overtime showdown a month ago in the Galen Center in Los Angeles. The Trojans were able to hold off the Wildcats 103-101 after Elijah Stewart hit a couple of late free throws to seal the win for USC.

The game saw 10 players reach double figure scoring, five from each team. Stewart, Gabe York and Allonzo Trier all scored over 20, as the Wildcats erased a 12-point deficit to send the game into the first overtime.

Trier also suffered his broken hand in the first overtime, but continued to play through all four as the Wildcats came up just short in their comeback efforts.

“USC is one of the best teams in the country. They deserve to be ranked from now until the end of the year,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said. “We’re going to be tested. If you’re a college basketball fan, this is that type of weekend that’s going to bring out the best in everybody.”

No. 23 USC has been one of the big surprises in the Pac-12 Conference this year. Currently second in the conference, the Trojans (18-5, 7-3 Pac-12) are one spot ahead of No. 17 Arizona (19-5, 7-4) and will be looking for another big upset.

USC has already swept UCLA in its season series for the first time since 2010. The Trojans also have big victories over Wichita State and Washington.

USC has six players who average double figures in scoring and seem to find new ways to hurt teams week-in and week-out. The Trojans are second in the conference in points per game, with 84. They rank near the bottom with points allowed per game, but force opponents into shooting just under 40 percent from the field.

“When you use the word depth, parity, a lot of times you’re just talking about USC, ” Miller said. “Where they were and where they are, two different places. What they did in the non-conference season; they have a chance to win the regular season conference championship. That says it all.”

USC also ranks second in 3-point field goal percentage and first in 3-point percentage defense. As a team, the Trojans are tied for first in the conference in assists with 15.7 per game.

Arizona has had some ups and downs since it was swept in Los Angeles, but seems to be back on the way up. The Wildcats have been 6-2 since, with losses at California and at home, to Oregon. They achieved their first road sweep of the season this past weekend against the Washington schools. Forward Ryan Anderson was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week after he averaged 26.5 points and 13.5 rebounds per game on the trip.

This was the third road trip in the past five weeks the Wildcats have traveled on.

“We’re through seven of 11 on the road and I find myself saying, especially to our players, just because we’re playing in McKale Center in five of our next seven are at home doesn’t mean we’re on easy street,” Miller said. “As evidenced by the Oregon game and just by the years gone by, there are teams that are able to come in here and beat us. Both teams this weekend are capable.”

Anderson’s weekend continues his strong season for the Wildcats. He currently averages a double-double with 16.2 points and 10.4 rebounds a game, leading the team in both categories.

Trier returned to the Wildcats against Washington, during which he scored seven points and fouled out in 16 minutes of play.

Arizona will take on UCLA at 7 p.m. on Friday on ESPN and USC on Sunday at 6 p.m., which will be broadcasted on FoxSports1.


Follow Kyle Hansen on Twitter.


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