Stanford Cardinal (9-4) and the University of Southern California Trojans Stanford Cardinal (9-4) and the University of Southern California Trojans Stanford Cardinal (9-4) and the University of Southern California Trojans

Stanford Starts Pac-12 Play at USC: Game Preview


Dec 21, 2012; Evanston, IL, USA; L-R Northwestern Wildcats guard Reggie Hearn (11) Stanford Cardinal guard Chasson Randle (5) and guard Robbie Lemons (10) go for a loose ball during the first half at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Both the Stanford Cardinal (9-4) and the University of Southern California Trojans (5-8) open up Pac-12 Conference play tonight at the Galen Center in Los Angeles.  The Trojans are 4-3 at home on the season while the Cardinal are just 1-1 on the road not having played many away from home.

The Trojans

The USC Trojans have been struggling of late losing 7 of their last 9 games on the season after starting 3-1, but do not be fooled.  Yes, a loss is a loss, but some of those losses have come against top tier opponents like Illinois, San Diego State, the University of New Mexico and Minnesota, all of who are ranked.  In all, the Trojans’ strength of schedule thus far into the season is 24th in the nation.

Key players to look out for from USC include senior forward Eric Wise, junior J.T. Terrell and senior guard Jio Fontan.  Wise leads the team in points (11.4 ppg), Terrell loves to shoot the three albeit at only 33% from the field, and Fontan will log lots of minutes.  Fontan also has the ability to be a playmaker and set his teammates up for easy buckets.

The Cardinal

Stanford will be expecting leading scorer Dwight Powell (13.8 ppg) to get back to his scoring way going only 4-12 from the field in each of his last two games.  While Powell has struggled to score key players such as Josh Huestis and Robbie Lemons have stepped up.  Huestis has been doing it both offensively and defensively scoring 9.3 point per game, pulling down 8.9 rebounds per game, and averaging 2.5 blocks per game including 3 last game against Lafayette.  Lemons, who has gotten the start in his last two games, scored scored 12 points against Northwestern and 7 against Lafayette.  If he gets another start tonight look for him to continue to improve and do what he loves to do, launch 3’s.  He has 13 attempts in the last 2 games and if he can knock a few down he could have a big game.

Stanford Wins If….

Stanford wins if their starters continue to contribute.  Yes it’s cliche, but to start off conference play, and do it on the road, your best players have to be your best players.  Powell will look to get back into the double-digit point range (has not done so the last 2 games) and look for Lemons to shoot and hit his three’s tonight even in the hostile environment.  Randle will look to duplicate his 16 point performance against Lafayette on Saturday and Huestis will need to be a beast on the boards and will have to continue to protect the bucket.