GAME NOTES: The USC Trojans will try to salvage a three-game homestand when they entertain the Colorado Buffaloes in a Pac-12 Conference clash at the Galen Center.
Colorado routed USC, 83-62, at home when these teams met for the first time on Jan. 18. The Buffaloes lead the all-time series, 5-3.
Very few games have been that easy for Colorado, especially after leading scorer Spencer Dinwiddie was lost for the season with a knee injury. The Buffaloes have gone 4-4 since Dinwiddie went down, but they are still a solid 18-7 overall, including 7-5 mark in league play. They will host Arizona State when they next hit the floor.
USC can't blame its difficult season on any major injuries, as despite being at full health, the Trojans are a miserable 1-10 against the rest of the Pac-12 in their first season under Andy Enfield. During their current five- game losing streak, the Trojans have shown some resolve, leading in the second half of five of those contests. They move on to face Stanford on the road next.
Colorado played well in the first 20 minutes on the road against UCLA last time out, but ran out of gas in the second frame to take a 92-74 loss. The Buffaloes hit just 37.5 percent of their total shots in the second stanza, allowing a lead of 12 points in the first half to slip away.
Even when Dinwiddie (14.7 ppg) was healthy, the Buffaloes were not exactly an offensive force. They are netting 74.2 ppg and shooting 45 percent from the floor, which, while respectable, are just ninth-best in the Pac-12. Josh Scott (14.4 ppg, 8.6 rpg) and Askia Booker (14.3 ppg, 3.4 apg) are the go-to scoring options now. Scott tallied 20 points against UCLA and Booker tacked on 16, although on just 6-of-16 from the field. Xavier Johnson (11.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg) brings some more production to the table, but the Buffs may be even more shorthanded in this one, as Wesley Gordon (6.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg) is listed as questionable with a sprained ankle.
USC dropped a 79-71 decision to Utah in the second part of the current homestand. The Trojans narrowly outshot the Utes, .455 to .453, but they were doubled up from 3-point range (30-15) and came out on the short end at the free-throw line (21-16) as well.
The Trojans can't hope to overwhelm Colorado with their offensive prowess. After all, they are 11th in the Pac-12 in scoring (71.8 ppg), while shooting the same percentage from the field as the Buffaloes. Byron Wesley (17.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg) will be the top scorer on the floor for both teams, at least based on his production this season. Wesley has scored at least 20 points in three of the last four games, including a 20-point showing against Utah. Scoring threats are limited after Wesley, with Pe'Shon Howard (10.4 ppg, 4.3 apg) the only other player averaging in double figures.
Right now Colorado's NCAA Tournament hopes are still alive, if only faintly. The Buffaloes still have the motivation and enough punch from scorers like Scott and Booker, to earn a road win against the Trojans.
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