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USC basketball: Arizona State pregame

Marcusjohnson_300 Greetings and salutations!

Coming to you from the Galen Center, where the ticket scalpers outside are spreading rumors that tonight's game between USC (9-4, 1-0) and Arizona State (10-4, 0-1) is a sellout.

I'll believe it when I see it. USC is averaging 3,628 in its eight home games. The Galen holds 10,258.

But, the Trojans have won seven straight. . . .

Here are some pregame facts and stats to hold you over until tip-off at 7:30 p.m. (televised on Fox Sports West, radio broadcast on 710):

USC player to watch: senior guard/forward Marcus Johnson (pictured at right).

Johnson is fourth on the team in scoring (10.2 points a game), but USC Coach Kevin O'Neill recently singled him out in practice, telling the Connecticut transfer that if he plays well, the entire team's overall play is significantly improved. If Johnson starts making big plays early, he'll play solid throughout. If he's cold to start the game, he'll be average or below average.  But he is a versatile defender, leading the team in steals (21) and ranking third in rebounds (62) and blocks (nine).   

Arizona State player to watch: senior guard Derek Glasser.

Glasser is Arizona State's best player and is averaging 17.8 points a game in Arizona State's four games away from Tempe this year. He is also second in the Pacific 10 Conference in assists per game (5.5) and ranks first in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.66 to 1, with 77 assists and 29 turnovers). It will also be interesting to see the point guard match-up between Glasser and USC's Mike Gerrity.

Key to the game: defense.

USC and Arizona State are tied for third nationally in scoring defense (55.8 points per game) so don't expect a high-scoring affair. Give USC the edge because the Trojans are at home and Arizona State has lost both its true road games, including its Pac-10 opener Thursday at UCLA, 72-70. The first team to break the 60-point barrier will probably take this one.

-- Baxter Holmes

Photo credit: Danny Moloshok / Associated Press

 
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