California Golden Bears (10-5 SU, 6-9 ATS. 7-8 O/U) at USC Trojans (15-1 SU, 8-7 ATS, 7-8 O/U)
When and Where: Sunday, Jan. 8, Galen Center, Los Angeles, Calif., 10pmET
Line: USC -3
Cal is loaded with talent but they’ve lost three of four games. Center Kameron Rooks (7-2, 260) has averaged 5.2 points and 5.4 rebounds, but played in just one minute in their 81-71 loss at UCLA on Thursday. He’s questionable for the Southern Cal game. The Trojans are coming off a 72-56 win over Stanford at home on Thursday. That was a nice bounce-back win after losing their first game of the season at Oregon on Dec. 30 (84-61).
Cal can’t find the basket against the Bruins
Cal scored 71 points against UCLA because they pounded the glass (15 offensive rebounds) and made seven three-pointers. But they also shot just 39.1 percent from the field, 10-18 from the foul line and turned it over 13 times. Star guard Jabari Bird (6-6, 203) struggled from the field, going just 1-of-7 for three points. Grant Mullins led the Bears with 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting, while star big man Ivan Rabb (6-11, 220) added 17 points and 20 rebounds.
Rebounding is a strength of this team as they lead the nation in defensive rebound percentage (82 percent). Rabb leads Cal with 15.3 points per game and 11.0 rebounds on 55 percent shooting. Guard Charlie Moore adds 15.3 points per game on 40.4 percent shooting, while Bird chips in with 14.3 points and 5.0 rebounds. Cal averages 70.9 points per game and shoots 43.9 percent from the floor. They allow 61.7 points per game and just 37.9 percent from the floor.
Trojans’ defense dominates Stanford
USC shot just 42.1 percent from the field in their win over Stanford so defense had to be a priority-and it was. They held the Cardinal to just 36.4 percent from the field and 4-of-15 from the 3-point line. Guard Jordan McLaughlin led the Trojans with 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Forward Chimezie Metu added 14 points and 10 rebounds. USC dominated most of this game, taking a 62-48 lead in the second half on a three-pointer by De’Anthony Melton, that basically put it away.
Southern Cal is off to their best start since the 1970-71 season. They’ve done it without 6-10, 230-pound Bennie Boatwright (10.8ppg, 4.0 rpg), who has missed the last nine games due to a sprained knee. USC averages 80.3 points per game and shoots 45.1 percent from the field. They allow 69.7 points per game and 39.4 percent from the field.
College Basketball Trends:
- 3-8 ATS last 11 after a SU loss.
- 4-1 ATS last 5 after an ATS win.
- 4-1-1 ATS last 6 in series.
Tough call but have to go with USC. They are 25-2 in their last 27 games at home at the Galen Center. Andy Enfield is turning this program into a winning one. UCLA has owned the court, while USC usually owns the gridiron in Los Angeles. That might be changing in the near future. Both squads are strong defensively, but USC has a little more offensive talent.