No. 16 USC prepares for No. 2 Arizona

Senior guard Drew Peterson dribbles down the baseline during USC’s game against Washington State.
Senior guard Drew Peterson dribbles down the baseline during USC’s game against Washington State. Peterson hit the game-winning 3-pointer against Oregon Saturday. (Amanda Chou | Daily Trojan)

Men’s basketball will host No. 2 Arizona Tuesday in a sold-out game. 

The Trojans were defeated 72-63 in the teams’ last meeting Feb. 5. However, USC has not lost any of the six games they played since the loss in Tempe. The Wildcats, on the other hand, lost their most recent matchup to unranked Colorado.

“We took note from Colorado, obviously,” junior forward Isaiah Mobley in an interview with Daily Trojan said. “They beat them by a pretty good margin, so we took note of that and then just worked on ourselves as well.” 

Over the past six games since the loss to Arizona, USC has regained a lot of the buzz that was lost following two losses to Stanford. 

Beating UCLA without Mobley and avenging the loss to Oregon earlier this year in Eugene were both accomplishments that the Trojans were praised for when it came time to vote for AP Polls. Senior guard Drew Peterson’s play has been a large factor in the win streak, averaging 18 points over the six-game win streak. 

The Wildcats’ loss to Colorado marks just their third of the season, with the other two coming from ranked UCLA and Tennessee. The team boasts a balanced lineup with four of five starters averaging double figures. 

Sophomore guard Bennedict Mathurin leads Arizona in scoring with 17 points per game, but had just 8 in the first meeting. Sophomore forward Azuolas Tubelis is second in scoring with 15 points per game. Tubelis had 18 points and 11 rebounds against the Trojans last month.

Arizona has beaten its opponents with a scoring margin of 17.8 throughout this season, which sits behind No. 1 Gonzaga for second in the nation. 

With the Wildcats at the top of the Pac-12 standings and ranked No. 2 in the nation, this game marks an opportunity for USC to prove themselves to national media doubters. 

“This isn’t just a new game,” Head Coach Andy Enfield said. “It’s a big game, sold-out crowd against Arizona, who’s second in the nation. We’re both the top two teams in the league currently with the standings, and we’ve been playing good basketball and so have they, so this is a huge game for us. We’re going to try to hold a home court advantage here, and it should be a lot of fun.” 

Other than just looking at Arizona’s loss to Colorado, Enfield stresses the importance of making improvements from USC’s loss Feb. 5.

“We just played Arizona, so we look at our game,” Enfield said. “Of course, we look at some of the things from the Colorado game, but they’re a different team. They play a little different style than us, so we have to use our strengths and try to play as competitive defense as we can for 40 minutes.”

Despite the crowd being sold out and this being one of the most important games of the season for the Trojans, Enfield is not worried about his players’ preparedness as he believes most of them are up for the challenge. 

“A lot of these guys have big game experience and March Madness experience,” Enfield said. “I think we’ve been very competitive on the road. We’re 9-2 on the road, 3-0 on a neutral site, so we’ve won a lot of games away from home.”

Tip-off is 8 p.m. at Galen Center.