The USC Trojans will host the Portland Pilots in inter-conference play Friday night from the Galen Center. The Pilots finished last season with a 7-25 record and tallied an 86-36 win against DIII Willamette in their season opener. The Trojans tallied an easy 77-48 win against Florida A&M in their season opener and went 16-17 in regular-season play in 2018-2019.
Rebuilding Portland Posts Win in Season Opener
The Portland Pilots have nowhere to go but up after a disastrous 2018-2019 season. It won’t be easy as they lost two of their top three scorers. The Pilots did not register a conference win last year. They opened the season with an 86-36 win against DIII Willamette on Tuesday night. Portland will be relying on Jojo Walker to be an offensive catalyst. The junior guard logged an average of 11.5 points on 39% shooting last year, and he netted 10 points in Tuesday’s victory.
The Pilots are hoping Tahirou Diabate can increase his production significantly this season. The junior forward has the size to his advantage and he posted 5.7 PPG on a 54.4% clip from the field last season. Portland also added Isaiah White on a transfer from Maine. The senior guard could potentially lead the team in scoring this season after averaging a solid 13.5 points on 41% shooting in 2018-2018. White scored 11 points on Tuesday night. Also back is Hugh Hogland who averaged 4.4 points last year.
The Pilots were projected to finish in last place in the WCC preseason poll. Portland scored an average of only 64.9 points last year, ranking them down at 333rd in the country. The Pilots defense was an issue as they allowed an average of 74.7 points, placing them 260th overall.
USC Enters Season with Optimism
The USC Trojans' easy schedule continues in this one. They did as expected and registered a 77-48 home win against Florida A&M last week in a game that had USC favored by 27 points. USC lost their top scorer in Bennie Boatwright who averaged 18.2 points but return plenty of talent. Nick Rakocevic should be a leader on this team. The senior forward logged 14.7 points per game and a remarkable 9.3 rebounds last season. Rakocevic only scored four points in limited minutes in Tuesday’s season opener. Also returning is Jonah Mathews. The senior guard is a threat from deep. He logged a 39% efficiency from beyond the arc and averaged 12.6 ppg in 2018-2019.
The Trojans are expected to be an improved team after finishing just under the .500 mark last season. They feature a few five-star recruits that will make an immediate impact. Isaiah Mobley is a power forward who was one of the top recruits in the country and Onyeka Okongwu is a 6-foot-9 forward with great defensive abilities. Okongwu flashed his potential in the season opener, accumulating 20 points.
USC was voted to finish in fifth place in the PAC-12 in the preseason media poll. The Trojans averaged a solid 76.3 points last season, ranking them 80th overall. They conceded an average of 73 points, pegging them 219th in the country.
The Portland Pilots are:
- 2-7 ATS in their last 9 non-conference games.
- 3-13-1 ATS in their last 17 games against the PAC-12.
- 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games following a straight-up win.
The top supporting trends for this game found on covers.com are as follows: The USC Trojans are:
- 7-3 ATS in their last 10 home games.
- 6-2 ATS in their last 8 Friday games.
- 8-1 ATS in their last 9 games against the WCC.