#566 University of Utah Utesvs.#565 University of South Carolina Trojans
Thursday, January 1 2017, at 9:00pm EST
Written by Ricky Dimon
Southern Cal Trojans (15-2 SU, 8-8 ATS, 8-8 O/U) vs. Utah Utes (11-4 SU, 6-6-1 ATS, 7-6 O/U)
NCAAB: Thursday, January 12, 2017 at 9:00 p.m. EST
The Line: Utah Utes -4. Total: 151
The Southern Cal Trojans will be looking to bounce back from a rare loss when they visit the Utah Utes at the Jon M. Huntsman Center on Thursday night. Southern Cal suffered its second setback of the season at home against California this past Sunday. The Utes have won four of their last five contests after most recently prevailing at Arizona State last weekend.
Southern Cal has gone from its best start to a season since 1971 to the middle of the Pac-12 pack after four conference games. The Trojans have losses to Oregon and California to go along with wins over Oregon State and Stanford. They are coming off a 74-73 home setback against California, marking their first home loss since the regular-season finale last March. Southern Cal is already looking up at five teams in the conference standings, one of which is 2-1 Utah.
Elijah Stewart led the Trojans in scoring through most of the non-conference schedule, but he is coming off back-to-back games in single-digits for the first time this season. The junior guard has seen his scoring average drip to 13.9 points per game. Jordan McLaughlin has taken over as the team scoring leader at 14.5 ppg after averaging 17.5 over the last 10 outings. De’Anthony Melton is another player who can contribute in a variety of ways, as the 6-foot-4 freshman guard is fourth on the team in scoring (10.2 ppg), second in rebounding (5.5 rpg) and assists (3.1 apg), and No. 1 in steals (1.8 spg).
Utah’s only hiccup so far in conference play is a 10-point loss at then-No. 16 Arizona last week. The Utes rebounded with an 88-82 victory at Arizona State this past weekend in which they got a career-high 26 points from Kyle Kuzma, who also grabbed 12 rebounds. Kuzma is 6-foot-9 and fellow starting forward David Collette is 6-foot-8, but they won’t have a size advantage against Southern Cal’s starting front-court of 6-foot-11 forwards Chimezie Metu and Nick Rakocevic.
The Utes have six players who average double-figures in scoring, led by Collette (15.4 ppg) and Kuzma (14.8 ppg). Lorenzo Bonam and Sedrick Barefield have been struggling with their offense lately, but JoJo Zamora picked up the slack with 18 points at the Sun Devils’ expense and freshman guard Devon Daniels has combined for 27 points and 14 rebounds in the last two games. Zamora is shooting 12-for-19 from the field in his last two outings.
The Southern Cal Trojans are:
The Utah Utes are:
Utah has won 24 of its last 28 conference home games dating back to the 2013-14 campaign. Barefield has been somewhat cold of late, but he showed what he can do in a 35-point performance against San Francisco on Dec. 22–his second game after gaining eligibility following his transfer from SMU. Utah leads the Pac-12 and is ranked 12th in the nation with a plus-8.7 rebound margin. Southern Cal is 1-7 ATS in its last eight overall, 3-8 ATS in its last 11 on the road, and 1-4 ATS in its last five against the Pac-12. The Utes are 3-1-1 ATS in their last five overall, 9-2-1 ATS in their last 12 against the Pac-12, 7-0 ATS in the last seven meetings between the two teams, and 4-0 ATS in their last four at home against the Trojans. Count on those trends continuing.
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A 2006 graduate of Davidson College, Ricky is a freelance sports writer based in Atlanta, Georgia. He has previously worked with various websites in the sports handicapping industry and is generally a fan of going with the hot hand while in most cases showing a willingness to take favorites and give the points. Beyond the four major sports, Ricky is an avid tennis fan—and writer—and covers the ATP Tour on a daily basis.