Saturday, December 16, 2017

UCSB vs. USC Men's Basketball Game Preview, by Gaucho Freg

UCSB @ USC Preview

Sunday, December 17, 2017, 5:00 PST

By the Numbers;
USC Rankings:                                                                 UCSB Rankings:
DC2: 61                                                                             DC2:  79
RPI:  77, RPI SOS:  58                                                      RPI:  32, RPI SOS:  149
Pomeroy:  28                                                                     Pomeroy:  139

The Gauchos travel down the smoky 101 to take on the uber talented & athletic USC Trojans which started the season ranked as high as #10 in some polls but now are unranked at 5-3.  USC easily handled Santa Clara Thursday night in the Galen Center leading by about 20 most of the game and winning 82-59.  The Trojans are considered a disappointment so far and as they were picked #10, I suppose that is reasonable.  Still, their three losses are to teams all ranked in the top 30 Pomeroy; Texas A&M, SMU and Oklahoma.

Shared Opponents:  UCSB defeated N. Dakota State in their home & season opener by 19.  Two nights later the Jackrabbits gave the Trojans a scare in LA, leading by as much as 10 before foul trouble led to an end-of-game surge by SC and the Trojans won by 10.   Both teams lost handily to Texas A&M, the Gauchos by 19 on the road, USC by 16 in the Galen Center.

The Arena:  The Galen Center opened in 2006, seats 10,258.  They are averaging about 3900 fans per game this season.  From all I’ve heard, it’s a beautiful arena and I’m looking forward to my first visit there. 

Stats Overview:
Despite their three losses, when the Trojans win, they have so decisively.  They are scoring at 77 pt clip while holding their opponents to 69.  They are shooting at a .432 clip, .369 from three.  They attempt 22.4 three pointers per game, a bit surprising to me given the strength of their front court.  UCSB attempts about 20 per game.  This will be their 6th home game, they are 4-1 at home.

Contributing to their relatively poor start is the absence of Sophomore SG De’Anthony Melton who is being forced to sit by the USC admin while they investigate a possible improper payment.  Also absent is sophomore guard Derryck Thornton who has been injured.  I’m not sure of the status of either player for Sunday but they are both impact players so UCSB catches a break if they are not available.

USC’s has some fantastic talent across the roster but the cream of the crop is projected first round draft pick 6’11” F/C Chimezi Mehtu who leads the team in scoring with 16.1ppg and in rebounding 8.5 pg.  He has terrific quicks for a big and will be a great challenge for Canty and Ami to defend.
At the other forward spot is another talented player in 6’10”  Bennie Boatwright who is averaging 15.5 and 8.3.  At times he has been a major star and carried the Trojans through SC’s terrific 26 win season last year.  At times he’s been pretty quiet.  He is similar to King, can rebound well and shoot the three, but not as well, .313
PG Jordan McGlauglin (6’1” 185 lb) has been a stud for the Trojans this year, shooting lights out from both within and beyond the arc while leading the team with 6.8 apg and pulling 4.3 boards per game.  He’ll be a handful and I’m hoping that our defense can step up the same way it did against USD’s Isiah Wright
Senior Guard/wing Elijah Stewart, 6’5” 195 lb is a three point threat, shooting 17-40.
Another Sophomore Guard Jonah Mathews (6’3” 195) contributes a solid 8.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg and shoots .407 from three. There’s no weak link in their starting line-up.

Key Reserves
6’11” Sophomore F/C Nick Racocevic is a terrific player that would be starting on most D1 teams.  USC just happens to have Mehtu in front of him.  He’s tough and the depth he gives USC in the front court will make things tough for our bigs.
6’7”  RS Jr Wing Shaqquan Aaron seems to be a role player and plays significant minutes.

Match-up, prediction:  USC played terrific in their win over Santa Clara and may be finding their stride.  Pasternack and his staff have impressed me in their ability to prepare for different teams so I give the Gauchos much more of a chance than I would have thought at the season start.  Much depends upon the health of Jackson, if his hip is less bothersome and he can limit the impact of Mclaughlin, that will certainly help.  Regardless, I have a lot of faith in the Gaucho starters and if the refs don’t take our bigs out of the game, I think this game remains close til late.  I do think the depth of the SC front court will take its toll and the Trojans will pull away in the end.  USC 77 UCSB 72.  Prove me wrong Gauchos!

USC Fun Fact:   USC has played in two Final Fours, 1940 and 1954 

Official Site:
Hey Guys! (with my preview of UCSB):
How to Watch:   For you So Cal locals, get to the Galen Center and watch it in person!  For the rest of you, Pac 12 Network

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