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Saturday, February 20, 2010
Preview: USC at Washington State

By Pedro Moura

If Thursday's game against Washington was the good kindof rematch for USC, then Saturday afternoon's rematch with Washington State is the vengeful kind.

See, when the Cougars and Trojans played last month, USC succumbed to an improbable second-half comeback from WSU and lost, 67-60. At the time, USC forward Alex Stepheson called it "pretty bad," memorably shaking his head while looking down.

But, as Stepheson will tell you, the tables have turned.

Since that game, the Trojans (16-9, 8-5) have won five of seven games — including their last four. The Cougars (15-11, 5-9) have lost six of seven.

But that doesn't make USC coach Kevin O'Neill any less worried about today's 2 p.m. contest at the Wallis Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum in Pullman, Wash.

The Cougars still have Klay Thompson. They still have Reggie Moore.

And combined, that duo's good for an average of 34.3 points per game — enough to keep any coach worried.

In January, the WSU duo had 41 of their team's 67 points. At the time, O'Neill called Moore the best point guard in the Pac-10.

Both Moore and Thompson struggled in the Cougars' 20-point loss to UCLA on Thursday, together recording just 19 points, but WSU did get 10 points from forward DeAngelo Casto.

And Casto may well be the key to this game. Averaging 14 points in his last four games, the 6-foot-8, 229-pound forward is the closest thing to an inside threat the Cougars offer.

While Cougars coach Ken Bone frequently runs a 4-guard offense, he can only do so if Casto manages to limit USC's Stepheson and Nikola Vucevic down low — and score some himself.

We'll see. No television today, but we'll have halftime and postgame updates.

Notes: We profiled USC baseball in this space yesterday, and the Trojans' first game against Cal Poly was an overwhelming success, as starter Andrew Triggs went seven strong innings and designated hitter Matt Foatwent 4-for-5 with 4 RBI. USC won 9-4 and will be back facing the Mustangs again tonight at 6 p.m...Meanwhile, USC's appearance before the NCAA Infractions Committee in Tempe, Ariz. is set to conclude today. The Los Angeles Times reports that the focus of today's proceedings are centered around the basketball program.  Former USC head coach Tim Floyd, who resigned last year, is in attendance alongside one of his attorneys.