How They Are Doing So Far:
USC has been one of the most disappointing teams in the nation early on this season. They are 5-4 and lack any resume building wins. Those victories have come against Robert Morris, Stetson, Missouri State, CSU Bakersfield and Long Beach State. None of those are going to impress the selection committee come March. And losses to Vanderbilt, Texas Tech, Nevada and TCU are not all great losses either. Eventually USC needs to win a game against a power conference team and this is their last chance in non-conference play.
Last Time Out:
The Trojans played TCU in the Staples Center last weekend and were absolutely crushed. The Horned Frogs are a good team, but not a team that should be able to go on the road and beat a team like USC by a score of 96-61. Bennie Boatwright and Nick Rakocevic had decent games in the frontcourt, scoring 14 and 13 points, respectively. The Trojans were decent shooting the ball, but their defense was atrocious. TCU shot 50 percent from the floor and had little problem moving the ball around to find an open look. That has to change if USC thinks they can go to Tulsa, Oklahoma and beat the Sooners.
Who To Watch:
Nick Rakocevic has stepped up his game this season. The 6-11 junior is averaging 15.0 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocks. He is a large force on both ends of the floor and the Trojans are at their best when they work through Rakocevic. The frontcourt is even better when Bennie Boatwright is playing well. Boatwright missed the first two games of the season, but is averaging 15.0 points and 5.6 rebounds after that. With those two in the paint, and Boatwright occasionally stepping out and knocking down three-pointers, the Trojans have a solid duo to build around.
Who Else To Watch:
The backcourt has some decent scoring threats in Jonah Mathews and Shaqquan Aaron. Mathews, a 6-3 junior, averages 11.7 points per game and Aaron adds 10.8. Getting Kevin Porter, Jr. back would certainly help. The highly regarded freshman scored at least a dozen points in each of his first five games. But an injury sidelined him for the next two games. Porter came back very briefly against Nevada before Coach Andy Enfield opted to take him out. He also missed last weekend’s game against TCU and he is questionable for the Oklahoma contest. If Porter is back, USC may finally start to make some positive progress.
As we have noted before, USC needs a big win. It certainly did not come against TCU. This Trojans team has talent and sooner or later it will come together. That is likely not going to happen quite yet as they wait for Porter to come into his own. But this group can pull off some upsets and the Sooners will need to be ready to contain the talented frontcourt. If Jamuni McNeace is not up to full strength after missing a couple games, Boatwright and Rakocevic could do enough in the frontcourt to keep the Trojans in this game.