Women’s Basketball Game of the Week Preview: No. 15 UCLA at USC

Who: No. 15 UCLA at USC

When: Sunday Jan. 10, at 6 p.m. PT/7 p.m. MT, with Anne Marie Anderson and Chiney Ogumike on the call.

After handing USC their first loss of the season last week, UCLA looks to sweep the season series with their cross-town rival.

Tale of the Tape: UCLA (11-3, 3-0 Pac-12)

UCLA sits atop the Pac-12 Standings, winning their first three games to open conference play. The Bruins had a major breakthrough in their last game, beating No. 11 Oregon State 71-51 behind 24 points from sophomore guard Jordin Canada. It was the first win over a ranked opponent in the last two seasons for a UCLA squad that has had a resurgence this season.  The Bruins finished the regular season 13-18 last year, but already have 11 wins this season with 15 games remaining.

Prior to UCLA’s breakthrough against Oregon St., the Bruins’ three losses this season have come against ranked opponents. They lost all three games by single-digits, including a heartbreaking non-conference matchup with Cal, which they lost by four in double overtime. Thanks to their big win over the Beavers, UCLA jumped up six spots in the AP Poll this week, from 21 to 15.

UCLA opened up conference play with a 78-73 win over USC on Dec. 31, and will travel across town to face the Trojans for the second time in the past two weeks.

Tale of the Tape: USC (13-2, 1-2 Pac-12)

USC began the season 10-0 before falling to UCLA on the road to open up Pac-12 play. The Trojans had the unfortunate task of facing 11th ranked Oregon State following their loss to UCLA and fell to the Beavers 57-49 at home. USC bounced back with a home win against Oregon on Monday and will look to use that momentum to get revenge on UCLA in this matchup. The Trojans feature a balanced offensive attack, as six players average more than eight points per game. USC also clamps down defensively, allowing just 53.3 points per game this season.

Similar to UCLA, USC is faring much better in 2015-16 as they are just two wins shy of matching their total from last season (15).

Three Players to Watch: UCLA

1. #3 Jordin Canada (5'6 Guard, Sophomore) - The Bruins leading scorer, Canada averages 18 points per game to go along with 6.5 assists per game. She is also a threat from deep, hitting  39% of her shots from 3-point range. Canada is the only player in the Pac-12 who is top-five in points and assists per game.

2. #21 Nirra Fields (5'9 Guard, Senior) - Fields is another dynamic scorer for UCLA, averaging 17.9 points per game to along with 6.7 rebounds per game. Fields has turned it up a notch in conference play, averaging 20 points per game in Pac-12 games this season. 

3. #25 Monique Billings (6'4 Forward, Sophomore) - Billings is one of the top post players in the conference, averaging 13.9 points per game to go along with 8.1 rebounds per game. In the meeting between these two teams earlier this season, Billings had 23 points and 12 rebounds.

Three Players to Watch: USC

1. #41 Temi Fagbenle (6'4 Senior, Forward) - Fagbenle leads the balanced USC attack, averaging 13.3 points per game and 7.9 rebounds per game. Fagbenle is 4th in the Pac-12 in field goal percentage at 52.7%.

2. #35 Kristen Simon (6'1 Sophomore, Forward) - Another talented forward for the Trojans, Simon averages 12.5 points per game and 8.7 rebounds per game. Simon is top-20 in the conference in scoring and rebounding.  

3. #23 Brianna Barrett (5'7 Senior, Guard) - One of the top point guards in the Pac-12, Barrett averages 8.1 points per game to go along with 5.7 assists per game. Barrett does a great job of taking care of the ball, as she is 2nd in the Pac-12 in assists/turnover ratio.

Three Notes to Know

1. Offensive Glass: UCLA and USC are the top two offensive rebounding teams in the Pac-12. Whichever team does a better job of limiting second chance opportunities should have an upper hand in this matchup.

2. Offense vs. Defense: UCLA averages 81.6 points per game this season while USC gives up just 53.3 points per game. UCLA was able to come close to their average in the last meeting between these two schools, scoring 78 points in the win. USC would like to keep the Bruins well under their average on Sunday.

3. Looking for a Split: Whoever wins the first matchup between these two teams tends to win the second matchup as well. UCLA and USC haven’t split the season series since the 2009-10 season. UCLA is 8-5 against USC during that span.