Arizona vs. USC prediction and game preview. The Wildcats look to hand the Trojans a third consecutive loss when they meet Thursday night in Tucson.
Arizona vs. USC Game Preview
When: Thursday, Feb. 23 – 10 p.m. ET
Where: McKale Center, Tuscon, Ariz.
TV Broadcast: Pac-12 Network
Arizona is still trying to make its case for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and 25-3 with a 14-1 conference record have a legitimate shot at earning it. The Wildcats have won four in a row since being blown out at Oregon and received 26 points and 13 rebounds from 7-foot-1 freshman standout Lauri Markkanen in Saturday’s win at Washington.
Allonzo Trier also had a solid game, scoring 21 points while hitting 4 of 5 from 3-point range after combining for 11 points in his previous two games. Trier’s and Markkanen’s strong performance especially were needed with head coach Sean Miller forced to use only seven players, as Kadeem Allen (dislocated right pinky) and Dusan Ristic (sprained ankle) both sat out with injuries. Miller said both should be ready to face USC, though.
That’s a positive for the Wildcats as the Trojans head to Tucson looking for a signature victory to boost their NCAA Tournament chances. USC (21-6, 8-6 Pac-12) is finishing a stretch of facing the conference’s top three teams in a row. It lost by 11 to Oregon and was routed by UCLA in Saturday’s 102-70 loss. Five of the Trojans’ six defeats have come against the Pac-12’s Big Three, including a 73-66 home loss to Arizona on Jan. 19.
Bennie Boatwright missed that game while still out with an injury, and Miller knows his team will be in for a tougher test with Boatwright healthy. The 6-foot-10 forward is one of the league’s tougher matchups and finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds Saturday.
Arizona Wins If …
… Markkanen lights up the Trojans again. He had 23 points while hitting 8 of 12 from the field and 5 of 6 from beyond the arc while adding eight rebounds in the first meeting. Markkanen did go through a rough four-game stretch when he went 5 of 25 from the field and combined for 26 points, but he has rediscovered his touch over the last two. Prior to the big effort against Washington, the versatile big man scored 19 points and grabbed 11 boards against Washington State to snap out of his slump.
USC Wins If …
… it knocks down its shots. It seems simple enough, but the Trojans shot 37.3 percent against Oregon and 33.8 percent against UCLA. Boatwright went just 3 of 15 from the floor in the loss to the Ducks and watched guards Jordan McLaughlin, De’Anthony Melton, Jonah Mathews and Elijah Stewart all struggle with their shot against the Bruins. It’s going to take a complete effort for USC to leave Tucson with an upset victory.
Matchup To Watch
Markkanen vs. Boatwright
Miller played zone against Washington, but he alluded to the fact that the Wildcats will go man-to-man against the Trojans. That sets up an exciting matchup between these two big men who love to step outside the paint.
Spread: Arizona -10
Over/Under: No line as of post
Arizona vs. USC Prediction
USC needs this win badly, but it won’t be able to get through the final hurdle of the three-game gauntlet. The Wildcats prove to be too much with the Markkanen-Trier combo and get a relatively easy win over the Trojans.
Arizona vs. USC final score prediction: Arizona 84, USC 72