Southern Cal-Arizona Preview
Arizona coach Sean Miller was happy to see Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Kaleb Tarczewski come up big this past weekend.
The seventh-ranked Wildcats hope that strong play continues Thursday night when they look to extend the nation’s second-longest home win streak to 35 as they face last-place Southern California.
Arizona (22-3, 10-2 Pac-12) remained tied for the conference lead with No. 9 Utah after posting two routs on the road last weekend. The Wildcats won 86-62 over Washington on Friday and 86-59 over Washington State on Sunday to bounce back from an 81-78 defeat to arch-rival Arizona State on Feb. 7.
Hollis-Jefferson was named Pac-12 player of the week after consecutive 17-point efforts in which he combined to make 15 of 19 shots and totaled 19 rebounds.
"His defense was terrific this weekend," Miller said. "I was excited to see him get the Pac-12 player of the week because he got it in large part due to his well-roundedness."
Tarczewski totaled 25 points in the two wins, scoring 17 and making all six shots Sunday. He struggled to make 1 of 6 shots for a season-low two points versus the Sun Devils.
"I was especially happy for him because coming off the ASU game, I think he had lost a little confidence and my hope is that he has it back from now until the end of the year," Miller said.
The home win streak is the fifth-longest in school history and trails only the 40-game run by No. 3 Gonzaga among current streaks. It figures to be extended since Southern California (10-15, 2-11) has dropped all six Pac-12 road games.
The Trojans ended a nine-game overall slide with Saturday’s 68-55 victory over Oregon State. Elijah Stewart scored 19 points in his first start in 12 games after the freshman totaled 18 points on 6-of-36 shooting in his previous eight.
”I was really happy to see a young guy like Elijah show he can come out and compete at this level in the Pac-12,” coach Andy Enfield said.
Katin Reinhardt, who started the previous six games, scored 16 points off the bench and Julian Jacobs added 14.
Enfield used three players in their second year of college basketball along with freshmen Stewart and Malik Marquetti in his starting lineup Saturday.
"USC’s talent is in the younger classes," Miller said. "They have some excellent freshmen and they have a couple really good sophomores as well. They’re just very, very young. They will only get better as those young players get older."
USC is last in the conference in field-goal percentage (41.9), second-to-last in 3-point shooting percentage (31.4) and commits the second-most turnovers per game (13.9).
The Trojans have dropped five of the last six meetings, including a 73-53 defeat Jan. 12, 2014. They have lost five straight in Tucson since a 70-58 win Feb. 28, 2008.
The Wildcats are retiring the jersey of former star Jason Terry, who played for them between 1995-99 and finished as the school’s all-time leader with 245 steals.