Tuesday, January 29, 2013
First look: USC at UCLA
By Peter Yoon
What: USC Trojans (8-13, 3-5) at UCLA Bruins (16-5, 6-2)
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m. PT
Where: Pauley Pavilion
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Radio: AM 570
Scouting the Bruins: After starting the Pac-12 season 4-0, UCLA is a mere 2-2 in the past four games and its inconsistent play was on full display last week when the Bruins played one of their best games and one of their worst of the season. An 84-73 victory over No. 8 Arizona established that the Bruins can compete with the best in the nation on any given night. A 78-60 loss to a good, but not great, Arizona State team two days later exposed the Bruins as a unit capable of losing to anyone as well. One game, they outrebound one of the conference's best rebounding teams, the next they get throttled 53-33 on the boards against one of the worst. The Bruins are shooting only 43.6 percent over their past four games, down from their season average of 46.9. Their scoring average -- a Pac-12-leading 77.1 for the season -- is down to 70.9 in conference play. Shabazz Muhammad and Travis Wear, the team's two leading scorers over the past four games, are both questionable for Wednesday's game. Muhammad, averaging a team-leading 18.2 points, has flu-like symptoms and Wear, averaging 12.2, has yet to be cleared from a concussion that sidelined him Saturday against Arizona State.
Scouting the Trojans: The Trojans have lost five of their past seven games, including two in a row, but have played tough in losses to Colorado, Oregon and Arizona State -- losing those three games by an average of 4.3 points. They are coming off a 74-50 loss to Arizona, however, a game that represented a season low in points and field goal percentage (28.1) for the Trojans and was their second-largest margin of defeat this season. The Trojans are still adjusting to a midseason coaching change as this will be Bob Cantu's fifth game as interim coach. The Trojans are 1-3 since Cantu took over for Kevin O'Neill. They play a slightly different rotation with J.T. Terrell starting more and Ari Stewart getting more minutes off the bench. The Trojans are also playing more zone and are pushing the ball on offense. The first three games under Cantu were decided by five points or fewer, but the blowout loss at Arizona ended that streak. Forward Eric Wise leads the team with 12.5 points per game, and Terrell (10.2) and guard Byron Wesley (10.0) also average in double figures for the Trojans, who are averaging 71.2 points since Cantu took over. Dewayne Dedmon, a 7-foot post player, leads the team with 7.0 rebounds per game, while 7-2 backup center Omar Oraby is shooting 57.9 percent from the field.
The series: UCLA leads the all-time series 132-104, and has won four consecutive games against the Trojans. The teams met three times last season, with UCLA adding a Pac-12 tournament victory to the regular-season sweep. USC last won at Pauley Pavilion in 2010.
Fast facts: UCLA and NBA great Reggie Miller will have his No. 31 jersey retired at halftime of the game. Miller, one of the best long-range shooters ever to play the game, is the third-leading scorer in UCLA history. ... UCLA will unveil an alternate all-blue uniform for the game and is asking fans to dress in blue.