USC (6-10) at Utah (8-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 12, 6 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jon M. Huntsman Center (15,000) -- Salt Lake City, Utah. Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: USC 5-4, Utah 7-3. Away Record: USC 0-4, Utah 1-4. Neutral Record: USC 1-2, Utah 0-0. Conference Record: USC 1-2, Utah 0-3. Series Record: USC leads, 16-14.
GAMES NOTES: The Utah Utes take aim at their first league win of the season when they host the USC Trojans in a Pac-12 Conference tilt at the Huntsman Center.
After edging Stanford, 71-69, in its conference opener USC has lost back-to- back games with the most recent a 66-60 setback on the road against Colorado. That loss was the fourth in as many tries for the Trojans on the road. USC is just 6-10 overall and will return home to the Galen Center next to face Oregon.
For the Utes, their three games in league play have all ended in defeat. Most recently Utah came up just short against UCLA, 57-53, to fall to 8-7 overall. The Utes are 7-3 at the Huntsman Center this season but will travel to take on Washington State and Washington in their next two contests.
These teams met for the first time as Pac-12 foes last season when USC earned a 62-45 win on its home floor. The Trojans now lead the all-time series by a 16-14 margin.
Four players scored in double figures and the Trojans outscored the Buffaloes 21-12 from 3-point range, but it wasn't enough on Thursday night. Colorado was allowed to shoot 44.4 percent from the floor in the contest as well as to outscore the Trojans 14-5 from the free-throw line. In fact USC had just six attempts from the charity stripe in the game overall.
With points hard to come by this season, USC could have used more production from the line. USC is currently the lowest scoring team in the Pac-12 (63.1 ppg), while managing to rank second to last in field goal percentage (.421). The Trojans managed a 39-30 edge in rebounds against Colorado which was out of the ordinary for the Pac-12's weakest rebounding squad (34.7 pg). USC has been able to keep within striking distance by holding opponents to 64.4 points per game on 41.1 percent shooting. Eric Wise (12.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg) is the only player on the roster averaging in double figures. Jio Fontan (8.3 ppg, 5.1 apg) has the ball in his hands a great deal but fails to score more effectively due to a 30.9 field goal percentage.
Utah dug itself into a 34-23 hole against UCLA and could not climb out of it in the second half. After trailing by as many as 12 points, the Utes cut the Bruins' lead to two with a little more than three minutes remaining but failed to get any closer by missing their final six shots.
Low scoring has also been a trend for Utah, which is netting the 10th most points per game (66.5) in the conference. Utah has found much more success on the defensive end, letting up just 57.2 points per game on 35.7 percent shooting. Both of those marks are among the 20 best in the country. A trio of players is scoring in double figures for Utah led by Jordan Loveridge (12.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg), who also serves as the top rebounder. Jarred DuBois (12.9 ppg, 3.8 apg) has matched Loveridge's scoring production and is the team leader in assists. Jason Washburn (10.5 pg, 6.5 rpg) can score and rebound effectively.
Utah should be able to suffocate the limited scoring options for USC and finally get a win in league play.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Utah 68, USC 60
01/12 10:32:31 ET