California (8-5) at USC (6-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 5, 11 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Galen Center (10,258) -- Los Angeles, California. Television: FSN. Home Record: California 4-3, USC 2-1. Away Record: California 1-2, USC 0-3. Neutral Record: California 3-0, USC 1-2. Conference Record: California 0-1, USC 1-0. Series Record: California leads, 130-121.
GAMES NOTES: The USC Trojans will try to ride the momentum of a thrilling victory and make it three wins in a row when they host the California Golden Bears in Pac-12 action at the Galen Center Saturday night.
In its conference opener on Thursday night California didn't have enough to upset UCLA on the road in a 79-65 setback. The loss was the second straight for the Golden Bears who are now 8-5 overall, including a 1-2 mark on the road.
Jio Fontan sank a pair of free throws in the final seconds against Stanford on Thursday night to lift the Trojans to a 71-69 victory in their conference opener. With the win the Trojans have already matched their league win total of last season when they went just 1-17 against Pac-12 competition. The win was also the second straight for the Trojans who are now 6-8 overall and 2-1 at home.
Last season California swept the season series including a 75-49 victory in the Galen Center. With those wins California increased its all-time series lead to 130-121.
Other than a 21-point outburst for Allen Crabbe, California did not have much going offensively against UCLA. The Golden Bears hit on less than 40 percent of their field goal attempts, including misses on all 13 from beyond the arc. California also suffered from a 23-5 deficit on points from the free-throw line.
Crabbe (20.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg) has been powering the Golden Bears' this season. The 6-foot-6 guard has used his size to score in a variety of ways and is currently the top scorer in the Pac-12. Justin Cobbs (16.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.0 apg) has teamed with Crabbe to form a formidable backcourt duo that contribute across the board. David Kravish (7.2 pg, 7.8 rpg) and Richard Solomon (8.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg) anchor the team from the interior. Even with Crabbe and Cobbs the Golden Bears are still ranked just seventh in the conference in scoring (71.0 ppg), while netting 45.5 percent from the floor. The Golden Bears are second in the conference in rebounding (40.6 pg) and have limited foes to less than 40 percent shooting from the field.
USC fought to take a 69-67 lead against Stanford with 1:51 remaining with a pair of free throws from Fontan, but an Andy Brown layup knotted things at 69-69 with less than 30 seconds left. On the next possession Fontan got himself to the line yet again and calmly made a pair of free throws. Two misses on the other end by Stanford allowed the Trojans to escape with the win.
The 71 points the Trojans scored against Stanford was the highest point total accrued by USC since an 87-73 victory over Coppin State in the season opener. Normally USC has been the worst scoring team in the conference putting in 63.2 points per game on just 42.3 percent shooting. The Trojans also rank at the bottom of the conference in rebounding (34.6 pg) although they hold a slim +0.4 edge on the glass. On the defensive end the Trojans have been much better allowing just 63.7 points per game on 40.5 percent shooting. Eric Wise (11.6 ppg) is the only player on the team scoring in double figures and is doing so with efficiency as he nets 53.4 percent of his shots from the floor. Fontan (8.7 ppg, 5.2 apg) runs the point and could be even more dangerous if he improved his 30.7 field goal percentage.
USC will have to prove that its recent surge is more than a fluke. With the leading scorer from the conference coming into the Galen Center in Crabbe, the Trojans will be hard pressed to keep up.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: California 71, USC 62
01/05 10:31:13 ET