SDSU head coach Steve Fisher talks to the media after defeating USC 66-60...
Game Day Breakdown: #25 SDSU at USC
Time: 7:00 p.m. PST
Location: Galen Center in Los Angeles, CA
Head Coach: Kevin O'Neill
USC Record: 44-57 / 4th season
Projected Starting Lineup
G – Gio Fontan (Sr.) 6'0, 175
The senior is still working himself back after coming off an ACL injury during USC's exhibition trip to Brazil last summer. The offense is run through Fontan, which should be no surprise that his struggles have carried over to the entire offense. Fontan has connected on only 9-of-41 shots (22%) but looks to get his teammates involved with 5+ dishes through five games.
G – J.T. Terrell (Jr.) 6'3, 185
Just one of many transfers on this USC roster is Terrell from Wake Forest. He's the go-to scorer for the Trojans and one of the few guys able to create clean looks consistently and moves well without the ball. J.T. is a streaky shooter but when he's hot, he's hot. The junior leads SC in scoring with 13.6 points a contest.
F – Byron Wesley (So.) 6'5, 210
F – Eric Wise (Sr.) 6'6, 240
Wise is a redshirt senior that transferred from UC Irvine last year. During his time as an Anteater he had a career average of 15.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. He has been a solid contributor to the Trojans so far this season with his versatility to play inside and out, being able to post opponents up and can dish. He's averaging 10.8 points and 6.6 rebounds in five games this season.
*F – DeWayne Dedmon (Jr.) 7'0, 255
USC has scored 28.3 percent of its points (95 of 336) and has 33.0 percent of its rebounds (52 of 156) from players coming off the bench. The non-starters also played 31.6 percent of the game (324 of the 1025 minutes). Main contributors off the pine for the Trojans are Rice transfer Omar Oraby, 7-foot-2 junior from Egypt, who will look to post up every opportunity down the court. Another transfer is Ari Stewart from Wake Forest, 6-foot-7 wing, that had his season vs. Long Beach State with 10 points in 15 minutes. Not to mention 6-foot-6 redshirt senior Aaron Fuller and 5-foot-9 freshman Chass Bryan.
#25 San Diego State (3-1)
Head Coach: Steve Fisher
SDSU Record: 261-161 / 14th season
Projected Starting Lineup
*G – Xavier Thames (Jr.) 6'3, 190
*G – James Rahon (Sr.) 6'5, 205
Looks like the senior guard will earn the start with Chase Tapley's game status in question.
*F – Jamaal Franklin (Jr.) 6'5, 205
"Jamal internalizes so much that when things don't go well he just obsesses over it," Fisher described. "We have talked long and hard about that. When things go wrong you can't do anything other than think, ‘What can I gain from the experience that I had?' Jamaal is so much better now from the neck up. He has gotten a lot better in every facet of his game."
F – J.J. O'Brien (So.) 6'7, 225.
F – Deshawn Stephens (Sr.) 6'8, 225
The bench will most likely lose Rahon to the starting lineup. But it will be the first game back for Winston Shepard since his three-game suspension ended. The Aztecs don't play again until Saturday (vs. UCLA) so the rotational players could each add additional minutes to their typical time. Skylar Spencer and Dwayne Polee will need to rebound and defend; anything else will be a major plus.
(* Returning Starter)
Keys to the Game
1) Second scorer must step up. With Chase Tapley doubtful for this game, someone from SDSU will need to take over that scoring role of 11.8 points per game. Rahon must continue to shoot the ball and hit the open jumper.
2) Crash the glass. San Diego State has won the rebounding margin by 9 boards a contest and averaging 17.25 offensive boards! That must continue against the Trojans.
3) Get up early. USC has been outscored 176-148 in the first half, while winning the second halves and overtime by a combined score of 188-160. The Aztecs must take advantage of their oppositions slow start.
What to Watch
San Diego State
"I'm not going to tell a guy not to shoot an open shot," Fisher said after last game about Rahon's shooting struggles. "Obviously James didn't shoot it well tonight. He's a veteran player, obviously he can't shoot 0-for-6 and 2-for-13 (from the field) against good people if we're going to win. And I'm hopeful that he won't."
"It's definitely going to be different, but it's not like we haven't faced size before," SDSU forward DeShawn Stepehens said of the USC multiple 7-footers. "We just have to adapt to it, try to play the best basketball we can and do what we can to win."
"They had a banged up squad that had a hard time winning… they have all those guys back, got 4-5 transfers that are now eligible and will take the place of some of the guys that were here last year. They are good. They guard extremely hard and are very aggressive with their play. Looked like us with having a hard time of putting the ball in the basket. They are a good basketball team."
-San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher on USC from last year to this year
USC struggled at Maui Invitational with losses to Illinois and Marquette but this group has a lot of new talented pieces that will continue to grow as a team. Tapley would be a huge loss for the shooting challenged Aztecs. This will be a hard fought, grind it out, ugly basketball game. SDSU will find extra possessions to push them over the top in Los Angeles.
San Diego State 53 USC 51
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