Los Angeles, CA – Los Angeles, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - The top-ranked Arizona Wildcats set their sights on the USC Trojans as they put their perfect record on the line on Sunday evening in a Pac-12 matchup at the Galen Center.
The Wildcats passed a big Pac-12 test on Thursday with a 79-75 win over UCLA at Pauley Pavilion. With the win, Sean Miller's squad moved to 16-0 on the season as the team looks for its first road sweep against the Los Angeles based schools since the 2004-05 season.
Andy Enfield's Trojans would like nothing better than to prevent that from happening. Enfield's first season at the helm has been a mild success thus far, with USC sitting at 9-6 overall. League play has been a little tougher, with two losses in three outings. The Trojans have dropped back-to-back games entering this contest, falling at UCLA (107-73) and Arizona State (79-60) in the last week. The loss to the Sun Devils was the first at home for USC this season.
Arizona holds a 61-41 series advantage and has won four of the last five meetings and seven of the last 10 overall.
The Wildcats survived a wild finish that saw the Bruins go on a 15-1 run late, to outlast UCLA on Thursday, preserve their perfect record and match the best start in the school history. Nick Johnson led the way with 22 points. Kaleb Tarczewski added 16 points, while Gabe York and Aaron Gordon tacked on 12 and 10 points, respectively for Arizona, which shot 53.8 percent from the floor in the game.
There isn't many areas where Arizona has struggled this season. The Wildcats boast of a +18.9 scoring margin, averaging 75.1 ppg, while allowing just 56.2. The team's +11.4 rebounding margin ranks fifth nationally. The squad has played extremely disciplined basketball, converting almost as many free throws (269) than opponents have attempted (273). Johnson leads a deep and talented scoring pool with 16.4 ppg. Gordon, a freshman, has impressed in his first season, averaging 12.3 points and a team-best 7.9 rebounds per game. Brandon Ashley (11.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg) and Tarczewski (10.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg) complete a potent frontline.
The Sun Devils went on a 22-9 run to close out the first half and USC, which suffered its worst offensive performance of the season, was unable to recover in a lopsided loss. Byron Wesley did what he could to keep his team in it, recording a double-double with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Pe'Shon Howard and Julian Jacobs added nine points each in the loss.
USC's up and down season is displayed in the team's +0.3 scoring margin, with the Trojans averaging almost as much (73.9 ppg) as they allow (73.5 ppg). Wesley has been the go-to-guy this season. The 6-foot-5 junior leads the team in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 17.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Senior guard J.T. Terrell has played in a little less than half the games this season, but has provided depth of late with 10.6 ppg. Howard, a 6-3 senior runs the point and can score (10.1 ppg) and distribute (4.0 apg) at a high rate.