USC vs. Arizona, Five questions for Trojans Basketball Expert Alicia de Artola

Zona Zealots reached out to USC Reign Of  Troy Expert Alicia de Artola to get her input on her Trojans basketball team.

As we love to do here at Zona Zealots, we reached out to our sister FanSided site, Reign of Troy to get their Trojans Basketball Expert to give us insight and answer a few questions we had about the upcoming game this Thursday at Galen Center in Los Angeles. The game begins at 6:00 pm PST/7:00 pm MST.

So ahead of Thursday match-up between the Trojans and Wildcats, who do you feel has the upper hand heading into this one?

Even though USC is hosting the Wildcats, you have to think Arizona has the upper hand in this one. The Trojans started the season surprisingly well, but they’ve come back to earth in the Pac-12 slate. USC has lost three of their last five games. And decidedly nervy games against Stanford and Colorado weren’t exactly impressive.

Meanwhile, the Wildcats are ranked No. 13 in the country and haven’t lost since early December.

How well do you think USC matches up against Zona?

Arizona’s ability to hit the three-ball could be a problem for USC with the Trojans struggling to defend from behind the arc for a couple of weeks now. Colorado is not a good distance-shooting team, but they were raining threes against USC.

On the other side of the floor, the Wildcats’ stingy defense will certainly challenge a Trojan team without their most prolific scorer, Bennie Boatwright, on the floor due to injury. Plus, Arizona’s size in the front court could create a problem, but Chimezie Metu’s athleticism and finesse may be the key to doing damage in the paint if he continues on the tear he’s been on.

What players have been the biggest standouts for the Trojans this year, and who in your opinion provides the greatest challenge for the Wildcats?

Metu has been the brightest figure for USC over the past few weeks and has really come into his own this season. He single-handedly kept the Trojans alive against Colorado.

Meanwhile, Elijah Stewart is a streaky a player as they come and has a tendency to struggle against particular opponents over and over again while succeeding against others. Of course, he set his career high against Arizona last year, so that may bode well for USC.

Six games into the Pac-12 season, how would you rate SC’s performance thus far?

It’s been disappointing to see the Trojans slide back into old habits at times, failing to do the things, like ball movement and high-energy defense, which had them roaring to start the season. However, the thing to remember about USC is that they’ve been playing without Bennie Boatwright, arguably their best player, since the end of November. All things considered, the conference slate hasn’t been great, but it hasn’t been a disaster either.

It feels like USC will be in a holding pattern until Boatwright’s return.

What are you looking forward to the most in this one?

With the UCLA game looming, I’m most interested in seeing USC’s mentality playing a highly ranked opponent at home. Will they come out with confidence and make a statement with a tighter performance than they’ve managed over the past couple of weeks? Or will they crumble like they did when the lost to Oregon? It’ll be intriguing to see.

Highlights from USC’s close win over the Colorado Buffs:

We thank Alicia profusely for her time and look forward to the game this Thursday! Bear Down!

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