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Thursday, February 18, 2010
Preview: USC at Washington

By Pedro Moura

Tonight marks a rematch for the Trojans — the good kind.

Because USC (15-9, 7-5) floored the Washington Huskies the last time around, 87-61, behind double-figure point totals from all five starters, and tonight, they get to face Washington again.

But the Huskies have learned their lesson, they say. USC is just a different — and difficult — matchup for Washington (17-8, 7-6).

"We learned that we better play to the best of our ability or we're going to have a tough time with SC," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar told the Seattle Times this week. "It's probably the most difficult matchup for us in this league because of their size and length. They do a great job of defending."

At the same time, Washington's not the best matchup for the Trojans either. Offensively, the Huskies' top two average a combined 37.9 points per game, and all of three of their guards present matchup problems for USC. But coach Kevin O'Neill hopes that an unusual game plan will play dividends Thursday night.

“Washington’s going to press us and try to keep the pressure up on us,” O’Neill said Wednesday. “But if we can get a few easy baskets and let that flow, it’ll hopefully help us on defense.”

This makes for a remarkable switch from the usual, as the Trojans usually rely on the defense to funnel into the offense — not the other way around. 

Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. at Washington's Edmundson Pavilion. We'll have halftime and postgame updates.

Notes: For updates on the NCAA hearings currently taking place in Tempe, Ariz., check our Ted Miller's Pac-10 blog. Miller also confirms Clay Helton, as we reported yesterday, has been hired as a USC football assistant. ... In women's basketball news, guard Jacki Gemelos will make her Galen Center debut tonight against Washington State at 7 p.m. Gemelos, a redshirt junior, missed all of three seasons and part of this season because of various knee injuries before returning earlier this month.