USC vs. Western Kentucky preview
The Trojans will be without Chimezie Metu once again as he has opted not to play for the Trojans in the NIT. Metu is skipping the NIT in order to not risk injury as he prepares for the NBA Draft.
Metu was USC’s leading scorer and rebounder this season, averaging 15.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
The Trojans were incredibly lackluster in their first NIT game against UNC Asheville. The Trojans needed two overtimes to finally secure the win and will now face a Western Kentucky team that could very well pull the upset.
The Hilltoppers finished 25-10 on the season and placed third in Conference USA. Along the way they knocked out Marshall and Purdue and beat Boston College by 17 in the first round of the NIT Tournament. They are led by seniors Justin Johnson and Darius Thompson.
Good news for Pac-12 fans: Dave Pasch and Bill Walton will be on the call for ESPN. In other words, there will be fireworks.
The winner of this game will face the winner of Stanford-Oklahoma State on Wednesday.
Three keys for USC to beat Western Kentucky
1. Be Motivated: The Trojans are still bitter that they were left out of the NCAA Tournament. The team is refusing to watch the tournament and USC guard Jonah Matthews said he believes the team could be in the Sweet 16 right now.
USC let the bitterness get the best of them in their opening round game versus UNC Asheville. The team needed two overtimes to win. If the Trojans don’t come out with any motivation to win, Western Kentucky will pull the upset. USC needs to come out with an edge and prove that they deserved to be in the NCAA Tournament.
2. Get Nick Rakocevic going: Rakocevic had 24 points and 19 rebounds in USC’s opening round victory. Without Metu, it is key to the Trojans to feed Rakocevic and get him going.
3. Contain Justin Johnson: At 6-foot-7, Johnson won’t dominate with his height, but at almost 240 pounds he can wear on you. He averages 15.4 points and 9.6 rebounds per game this season and is the key to the Hilltoppers offense. The Trojans will need to slow him down in order to win.
USC-Western Kentucky basketball time, game information
- Time: 8:30 p.m. PT
- Date: Monday, March 19
- TV Channel: ESPN 2
- Location: Galen Center, Los Angeles, California
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