Huskies Insider Blog

Gameday preview: USC vs. Washington

Good afternoon. I doubt many of you are sitting in front of your computer with the sun out and temps in the 60s. If anyone wants to take my truck to get washed, I would be grateful -- just kidding.

Late start to tonight's game versus the Trojans. Let's be clear.... this is a game the Huskies should win. They shouldn't just win, but win easily and comfortably. It should be decisive enough that Tony Wroten can rest his bruised thigh and C.J. Wilcox can rest his sore hip for significant minutes at the end.

Why should it be simple?

Well, USC, which didn't have a ton of talent coming back this season having lost four of its six top players, has been riddled with injuries. From my preview story ...

O’Neill probably isn’t feeling much sympathy for the Huskies. Thigh bruises and manageable stress fractures are nothing compared to what his team has dealt with.

It started before the season, when senior guard Jio Fontan tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on the team’s summer trip to Brazil.

That was only the beginning.

• Sophomore forward Evan Smith had a setback in his recovery from shoulder surgery after playing seven games and was shut down for the season.

• Junior forward Aaron Fuller suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder and had season-ending surgery on Jan. 26.

• On the day of Fuller’s surgery, sophomore center DeWayne Dedmon tore the medial collateral ligament in his left knee and was also done.

“That was kind of the last straw,” O’Neill said. “I was expecting to walk into the parking garage that night and have a van fall on my head.”

The injuries have made winning almost an impossibility for the Trojans.

“I knew it was going to be difficult, but I didn’t realize how painful it would be,” O’Neill said. “This season is what it is. It’s been unavoidable because of the injuries.”

O’Neill is playing Jones 38.3 minutes per game as he tries to patchwork a lineup around him.

“We really don’t have any choices,” O’Neill said. “ … We lost four of our top six players from last season. And four of the guys that started our first summer tour game are all done with season-ending injuries. We are playing two freshmen, three sophomores and three walk-ons.”

USC (6-17, 1-9 PACIFIC-12) AT WASHINGTON (15-7, 8-2)

8 p.m., Alaska Airlines Arena

TV: FSN/ROOT Sports. Radio: 950-AM/102.9-FM

Series: USC holds a 67-65 advantage in the all-time series which began in 1925, but the Huskies are 37-30 at home versus the Trojans. Still, Washington has lost two straight in Seattle and three of the last four games against USC.