The fiercest rivalry in college sports continues tonight at the Galen Center as the Trojans go for the season sweep over the hated bRUINS. USC comes into this game extremely thin at the guard position after the injury to Daniel Hackett, but the atmosphere should be electric and should give our guys the spark they need to pull this one out. Westwood College is reeling after dropping their last game at Washington and could also be a man short if forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute can't go tonight. Don't expect USC to shoot 61% from the field like they did in the first game, but do expect Coach Howland to make several adjustments for his bRUINS. All the signs point to fucla winning this game, but don't think for a second that they are going to come in here and dominate on our home court. The contributors to this blog will be there, loud and proud, and making life hell for the bRUINS all night. Tim Floyd is an excellent head coach and his staff will undoubtedly put together another nice game-plan like we've seen them do before. Here's what I believe are the keys to tonight's game (in order of importance).
(1) Davon Jefferson -- The freshman forward had a monster game in the first meeting at Pauley, throwing down 25 points to go with 9 rebounds and this thunderous dunk that sealed the game...
We need more of that from Davon and less of his pre-game chatter as DC Trojan pointed out over on Conquest Chronicles. He's put himself on the spot with his nonsense, but he needs to assert himself into the game early. USC needs to feed him in the post, where one of 2 things will happen, isolation on Alfred Aboya or Kevin Love, or he'll likely get double teamed. If Davon gets doubled, he can then look to Taj Gibson underneath for a dunk or kick it out for an open three. If somehow he gets a one on one matchup, he needs to go to work and get fucla's big men in foul trouble.
(2) Slow the Game Down -- The Trojans have no scholarship players coming off the bench at the guard spot, so Angelo Johnson, Dwight Lewis, and O.J. Mayo need to walk it up the court and play smart. Unless they get a clear break away lay up or a 3 on 1 opportunity, they need to play under control. Once in the half-court they need to spread out the defense and get a good shot going towards the basket. If the Trojans can get to the free throw line, they'll not only get the bRUINS in foul trouble, but they'll catch a blow and regroup for the next possession. Coach Floyd needs to use the media timeouts wisely as well, by subbing out Johnson, Lewis, and Mayo right before each media timeout which occurs at the 16, 12, 8, and 4 minute marks. If he can buy a minute of game-time, the media timeout will extend it to at least five minutes of actual time for our guards to rest.
(3) Defensive Rebounding -- Gibson and Jefferson must control the defensive boards, doing so will cause three things. First, it will eliminate easy buckets off put backs. USC's half court defense is solid, but they can't waste good defensive possessions by giving up a cheap two. Second, defensive rebounds limit the number of defensive possessions, which in turn, decreases the chances for our guys to get in foul trouble. Last, if our guys our boxing out and winning position, then we're bound to get some over the back fouls on Love and Aboya.
I think I will refrain from making any predictions, except that we have a much better chance than people think, nevertheless, this game promises to be a good one. We've had some memorable games against these cats at home the last few years, including Aaron Awful-O's heartbreaker last year, Ryan Francis leading us to victory in 2006, or Desmond Farmer playing out of his mind in our 2004 victory. Let's just say the money line for USC to win is $240 bucks, that means betting $100 wins you $240, I might just take that bet. Fuck it, let's make a prediction, it worked for Plaxico in the Super Bowl. USC wins a close one by winning the battle at the free throw line, and nestor and the rest of his misfits over at bRUINS Nation cry all week about the poor officiating.
Let's get loud and Black Out the Bruins tonight!