Drew Peterson a Game-Time Decision For USC Vs Arizona State (3:30 PM/ESPN)

Drew Peterson a Game-Time Decision For USC Vs Arizona State (3:30 PM/ESPN)


Drew Peterson a Game-Time Decision For USC Vs Arizona State (3:30 PM/ESPN)

On Saturday, USC Trojans are gearing up for their final home game of the season against Arizona State; however, a key player will not be participating. Drew Peterson, who has been an immense force throughout this season and alone, will not face ASU.

USC knows this is a critical game, and the Sun Devils will do their best to apply relentless pressure for 40 minutes on Boogie Ellis and the rest of the Trojans. This should make life much tougher for Boogie and Co. during their crucial match-up against Stanford on Friday afternoon.

1. Reese Dixon-Waters will get extended minutes as a starter

UPDATE: Drew Peterson has been declared a game-time decision for USC's game against Arizona State (3:30 pm/ESPN).

Boogie Ellis wasn't expected to play more minutes than his 20 on Friday against BYU, so it came as a bit of a shock that he got more than 20. With Reese Dixon-Waters and Kobe Johnson both struggling with foul trouble in the first half, all eyes were on Ellis to step up and score seven points on three field goals and two free throws in the opening 20 minutes to help USC jump out to an 11-5 advantage.

In addition to his impressive shooting, Ellis was equally effective on the defensive end with his quickness and ability to block shots. He collected eight steals, averaged over six rebounds per game, and committed just one turnover.

Last month, the Trojans traveled to the Bahamas and were thoroughly swept by Florida in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. Now they must win their opening game of the Pac-12 Tournament to keep their momentum high.

They have scored an average of 87 points per game in their last five games and have won all four conference matches this season. Furthermore, they are now ranked 9th according to KenPom's ranking system.

Comparative to their two previous seasons, this team has seen tremendous improvement in the Pac-12. From an average of 56 points per game last year to 79 this season, they scored almost 40 more points against California and Oregon State combined.

It's essential to note that they are not the only team in the conference with a weak spot. UCLA, for instance, has had its share of difficulties this year and has lost its past two games.

In order to maintain their winning streak, the Trojans need more from their bench players. Reese Dixon-Waters is currently averaging 13.3 points per game while KJ Simpson has been an excellent contributor this season as well. Hopefully both these players can use extra playing time to refine their skillset.

2. Kobe Johnson and Tre White will have to play well

Drew Peterson of USC will make a game-time decision whether or not to miss Saturday's critical match against Arizona State. With hopes of reaching the NCAA tournament on the line, losing against an in-state rival would be devastating for their chances.

At Arizona, USC was able to effectively spread the floor and run its offense. Three players reached double-digit scoring while five others contributed at least three assists.

USC had plenty to commend them about in this game, but there were also some concerns. Foul trouble was an issue for both Kobe Johnson and Boogie Ellis, ultimately impacting the Trojans as a unit.

Though USC was able to stay with Arizona in the first half, it was a hard-fought, low-scoring contest. Trailing by 13 at halftime, USC rallied and tied the game at 53 with under 10 minutes left in the second.

One of the reasons for the Trojans' success this year has been their stellar defense. They've been able to force opponents into taking bad shots and forcing them into fouling.

They've also been able to make their opponents earn their baskets with defensive rebounding. In Thursday's loss to Arizona, Ellis poked the ball away from Cedric Henderson Jr. and set up a fast break for USC that led to two baskets.

But that was the last time the Trojans had control of the ball and an opportunity for a shot. After that, they struggled to generate offense and fell behind by nine points with just over 12 minutes left in the game.

On the defensive end, USC must be able to contain Arizona's high-post penetration. Furthermore, they need their big men to shoot better from outside, particularly on dunks and jumpers.

With junior forward Joshua Morgan returning from an ankle injury, USC should have more options at center for next week's matchup against Oregon and Oregon State. Both teams are likely going to use many of the same rotations and combinations when facing off against the Trojans.

3. Joshua Morgan will have to step up

On Monday, USC head coach Andy Enfield indicated that Drew Peterson will not be a game-time decision for their Pac-12 regular-season finale Saturday against Arizona State. That leaves Joshua Morgan as the man to make up the difference against the Sun Devils.

This is a pivotal matchup for the Trojans, who enter this contest with an impressive 14-game home winning streak and are in the thick of their Pac-12 at-large tournament bubble race. Winning this contest would keep their NCAA NET ranking intact and guarantee themselves an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

In their previous meeting, USC took an early lead but a late Azoulas Tubelis-Oumar Ballo surge ended any hopes of a comeback for the Trojans. Not only was it a tough loss for USC, but it also dropped them into third seed in the Pac-12 Tournament.

The Trojans have been outstanding offensively in conference play, averaging fast-paced points and shooting well from two-point range. On the defensive side of the floor, they allow opponents to score only 87.9 points per 100 possessions while giving up just 84.7 - good enough for second in Pac-12 conference.

They excel at getting their top players involved in pick-and-rolls and isolation situations, with superstars like Boogie Ellis taking advantage of advantaged matchups on the perimeter and Drew Peterson dominating in mid-post territory. They employ various pet actions to get these guys into position for successful shot attempts, then set screens either forcing a switch or creating space for pull-up jumpers.

USC's offense relies heavily on shooting the ball in isolation, often not relying on many layups but instead utilizing efficient shots from midcourt. It's a style that's difficult to counter but one which has proven successful for them as one of college basketball's more efficient two-point scoring teams.

Although their offense is far from perfect, it has made huge strides since earlier in the season when they were averaging 70.8 points per 100 possessions on the road and 88.9 at home. Now USC has an opportunity to show that their improved approach has paid off if they can continue their winning ways on the road.

4. Vince Iwuchukwu will have to play well

USC coach Andy Enfield was forced to make a game-time decision for Saturday night's Senior Night matchup against Arizona State after Drew Peterson suffered a back injury during Thursday night's win against Utah. It's an extremely tough call that could significantly impact the Trojans' NCAA Tournament hopes, especially considering both Peterson and Iwuchukwu were already carrying back injuries when they suffered their most recent setbacks against Cal.

On Saturday, freshman center Vincent Iwuchukwu will be missing from the starting lineup after suffering back spasms since March 2. His absence has been a major factor in Trojans' struggles to play effective defense in the paint this season.

Boogie Ellis has been the go-to player this season while Iwuchukwu is out injured, and he's delivered in a big way: averaging 16.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game while shooting 35% from beyond the arc.

Furthermore, he's been more consistent than ever this season. His field goal percentage has surged to a career high.595 and he's averaging more than one steal per game (at an even faster pace than his rebounds!) this season.

So it's no shock that USC has chosen Ellis as their primary scorer. His efforts have been instrumental in the Trojans' ability to outscore opponents this season - they currently rank seventh nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency.

If Ellis can maintain his current production against the Sun Devils, USC could pull off an impressive road victory. His shooting will need to be even better than it has been this season and his overall effort must be much improved from its performances in the first two games against Colorado and Utah.

He'll have to help the Trojans take advantage of teams that switch similar-sized screens, like USC did against Utah recently. By doing this, USC can create an easier path for Ellis to score and shoot three-pointers while keeping the ball away from Peterson's hands - something which could prove crucial in their upcoming games against Pac-12 tournament-bound Wildcats.

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