2017 Pac-12 Men's Basketball Tournament first round preview: No. 6 USC vs. No. 11 Washington
When: Wednesday, March 8 at 8:30 p.m. PT / p.m. 9:30 MT
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
TV: Pac-12 Network, Los Angeles and Washington
On the call: Ted Robinson, Bill Walton and Lewis Johnson
Live stream: Pac-12.com/now
LAS VEGAS – On Tuesday afternoon, Washington coach Lorenzo Romar confirmed that freshman phenom Markelle Fultz will miss Wednesday night’s contest for the Huskies as he continues to deal with knee soreness. It’s a big blow for UW, as Fultz looks like a potential No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft and completely transforms the team completely.
“It’s 35 points on offense,” Romar said. “It’s a couple of blocks, it’s a couple of steals and just overall presence on the floor. He could make things easier for everyone else.”
Fultz averages 23.2 points, 5.9 assists, 5.7 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks per game and always brings his entertaining style to the floor.
The Trojans and Huskies just played each other on Saturday with the Trojans earning a 74-58 victory on Senior Day. The winner of Wednesday’s nightcap will face No. 3 UCLA at 8:30 p.m. PT / 9:30 p.m. MT in the quarterfinals.
No. 6 USC (23-8 overall, 10-8 Pac-12)
Coach Andy Enfield has put together a long, athletic team that is starting to scratch the surface of its potential. The fun-loving bunch features a host of underclassmen who have the program’s future looking bright. As Romar noted, the Trojans have been a ball-hawking group in the previous two meetings between the two schools, as USC has recorded 25 combined steals in the pair of victories.
“For us, we’ve got to take care of the ball,” Romar said. “They’ve done been very successful at getting us to turn the ball over with their length and their quickness.”
— USC Men's Basketball (@USC_Hoops) March 6, 2017
Players to watch
Bennie Boatwright, F, Sophomore
Height/Weight: 6-10, 230
Key stats: 14.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.4 3pg
The Trojans have been at full strength for the second half of the season after Boatwright missed 15 games due to a knee injury. The skilled big fella announced his return with a 23-point effort off the bench against Washington on Feb. 1 so the Huskies know how dangerous he can be. In the lane or out on the perimeter, you always have to pay extra attention to Boatwright, the team’s leading scorer.
Chimezie Metu, F, Sophomore
Height/weight: 6-11, 225
Key stats: 14.5 ppg, 6 rpg, 39.3 3FG%
The Pac-12’s Most Improved Player gives Enfield another athletic post player who can inject energy into the team with some exciting plays. Metu has blossomed into a solid two-way player, as his 1.6 blocks per game are tops on the team.
No. 11 Washington (9-21 overall, 2-16 Pac-12)
Even with Fultz in the lineup, the Huskies went just 2-11 in conference play. Without him, the Huskies have gone 0-5 as part of its current 12-game losing streak. Still, Romar isn’t using Fultz’s injury as an excuse.
“You got to go with what you have,” Romar said. “Earlier in the year, maybe you could say it’s good for guys to get experience for the end of the year. But this is the end of the year, so you’d like to have your full compliment of players playing. So we just have to go for it.
— UW Men's Basketball (@UW_MBB) March 8, 2017
Players to watch
Noah Dickerson, F, Sophomore
Height/weight: 6-8, 245
Key stats: 12.4 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 53.9 FG%
Dickerson has taken ownership of the paint for the Huskies and has been particularly impressive lately, as he averaged 25 points this past weekend in two road contests against the Los Angeles schools. He moves well for his size and can be tough to box out on the block. And if he gathers steam for a slam dunk, watch out.
David Crisp, G, Sophomore
Height/weight: 6-0, 195
Key stats: 13.5 ppg, 3 apg, 3 rpg
The high-energy point guard loves to set the pace for the Huskies. Crisp was held scoreless against the Trojans on Saturday but can slice his way to the hoop and create opportunities for himself and his teammates.