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Cal MBB Preview: The Trojans come to town.

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USC comes back to Haas after a year break.

NCAA Basketball: Southern California at California Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

After starting off conference play with a surprise comeback victory in Palo Alto, the Bears return home to play the Trojans of Southern California.

Before starting the preview, a bit of news. USC MBB captain, well, now former captain, Chimezie Metu will not play in the first half of this upcoming game against the Bears. He was suspended after being ejected with a flagrant 2 during USC’s game against Washington State last week. Metu was closing out on G Carter Skaggs, when he appears to strike Skaggs in the groin as he runs past him. The foul was reviewed and he was ejected. The suspension also was self-imposed and not from the conference. Metu is currently USC’s leading scorer and rebounder averagin 17.8 and 7.6, respectively.

With a key member of the Trojans rotation unavailble for the first half, the Bears will look to take that advantage and attack one of the most erratic teams in the nation. Let’s take a look into the team stats:

It’s clear that USC is an offensive-minded team, and is one of the top offenses in the country. The Trojans have the 15th best offensive efficiency in the country at 116.3, while averaging 15.4 seconds per possession. The have an effective field goal percentage of 54.5, which is good for 59th in the country. They shoot the ball at a rate of 38.4% from beyond the arc, and 52.7% from inside the arc. The Trojans also are one of the top teams in the country at taking care of the ball and shot selection. They only turn the ball over at a rate of 16.2%, while getting their shots blocked at a meager rate of 6.5%, and get teh ball stolen ata rate of 7.2%. All three of those statistics are good for top 50 in the country.

On the other side of the ball, the Trojans are not that proficient. They allow teams to shoot 36.6% from beyond the arc and 48.8% from inside. USC does not force turnovers but they do block shots 12.8% of the time which is top 45. Opposing offenses have settled for shots beyond the arc 41.6% of their possesions, so it’s clear teams do get looks from outside.

So what do these stats mean for the Bears? What will we have to do win the game?

1. Make Perimeter Shots

Cal will get open looks for 3 and its up to our 3 best 3PT shooters in Darius McNeill, Don Coleman and Justice Sueing to knock down those looks. That will free up the lane and paint for Marcus to operate early and often against a team that will be undersized. If Marcus can get Rakocevic in early foul trouble, that could pay dividends in the second half when the Trojans get Metu back.

2. Slow Down Tempo

USC wants to get out and run, and so do we, but let’s flip the script on them. Offensively, force the Trojans to play in a half court while using up shot clock. Defensively, speed them up and do not let them sit back in their defense. The game flow should be in our favor, but of course its a matter of whether or not we can knock down shots.

3. Limit Offensive Rebounds. Crash Offensive Glass.

USC is a very good offensive rebounding team. The Bears need to get to their assignment, box out and ot allow any second chance opportunities for the Trojans especially on the rebound and kickout to shooters like McLaughlin, Mathews, Stewart and Boatwright. On the other side of the court, the Bears need to attack the glass and get as many chances to score as possible. USC does not turn the ball over easily so we need to make the most out of every possession that we have.

Starters:

Sr G Jordan McLaughlin - 6’1”/185

So G Jonah Mathews - 6’3”/195

Sr G/F Elijah Stewart - 6’5”/195

Jr F Chimezie Metu - 6’11”/225

Jr F Bennie Boatwright - 6’10”/227

Key Reserves:

So G Derryck Thornton - 6’2”/195

So C Nick Rakocevic - 6’11”/225

Fr G/F Charles O’Bannon - 6’6”/210

Game Info

Time: Thursday January 4th, 2018 - 730PM PST, 1030PM EST

TV: Pac-12

Radio: KGO 810 or TuneIn