Preview: Arizona State at Southern California
Arizona State is fighting for an NCAA Tournament spot and Southern California interim coach Bob Cantu is vying to be the school's permanent coach. The schools meet Saturday in Los Angeles with the Sun Devils badly needing a victory after back-to-back losses. Arizona State has 20 wins but a soft nonconference schedule is hurting its chances at landing in the tournament. USC has won five of seven games, including a stunning upset of No. 11 Arizona on Wednesday.The Trojans have responded well under Cantu, a longtime school assistant who has reshaped the atmosphere after testy Kevin O'Neill was fired. USC's huge win over the Wildcats can only help Cantu's bid to land the gig. "A win like this means everything," Cantu said afterward. "If you can beat Arizona, you can beat anybody." Arizona State lost to UCLA on Wednesday and is fully aware of its plight. "We're not out of the picture completely, we just got to fight a little bit harder," senior forward Carrick Felix said. "Our road is going to be a little bit tougher." Arizona State defeated USC 98-93 in overtime at home on Jan. 24.TV: 3 p.m. ET, FSN.ABOUT ARIZONA STATE (20-9, 9-7 Pac-12): Freshman guard Jahii Carson (22 points), Felix (16 points and a career-best 18 rebounds) and sophomore forward Jonathan Gilling (18 points and six 3-pointers to match a career high) all had solid games against the Bruins. Carson averages 17.7 points and 5.1 assists and is three assists away from becoming the 12th freshman in Pac-12 history to record 150 assists in a season. Felix is averaging 14.3 points and 8.3 rebounds and has posted 12 double-doubles. Junior guard Evan Gordon (10.6) also averages in double digits and he tallied 28 points in the January win over the Trojans. The Sun Devils have a school-record 186 blocked shots and could break UCLA's conference record of 199, set in 2010-11.ABOUT USC (13-15, 8-7): Senior forward Eric Wise scored a season-high 22 points and the Trojans shot a season-best 61.1 percent from the field against Arizona. Wise averages a team-leading 12.3 points with junior guard J.T. Terrell (11.3) and sophomore guard Byron Wesley (10.6) also averaging in double figures. Senior point guard Jio Fontan contributes 9.7 points and 5.3 assists and tallied a career-high 25 points in the overtime loss to the Sun Devils. The Trojans are finishing the season strong and conclude the regular season with a road trip to play Washington and Washington State.TIP-INS1. Arizona State has won the last three meetings and hasn't won four straight against the Trojans since the 1979-80 and 1980-81 seasons.2. Terrell has scored in double digits in 12 of the last 13 games.3. Sun Devils junior C Jordan Bachynski has 108 blocked shots, which ranks third in school history and Pac-12 history. Former Arizona State star Mario Bennett (115 in 1994-95) holds both records.PREDICTION: USC 88, Arizona State 84
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