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The Battle for the Basement

Southern California guard Maurice Jones (10) looks to drive against Washington State forward Brock Motum (12) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, March 3, 2011, in Pullman, Wash. Jones scored 16 points. Washington State won 85-77. (Dean Hare / Fr158448 Ap)
Southern California guard Maurice Jones (10) looks to drive against Washington State forward Brock Motum (12) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, March 3, 2011, in Pullman, Wash. Jones scored 16 points. Washington State won 85-77. (Dean Hare / Fr158448 Ap)

From Pullman -- The chances of USC winning at Washington or Washington State upsetting UCLA on Saturday are remote at best. Therefore tomorrow's matchup between USC (10-19, 1-15 Pac-12) and WSU (9-19, 2-14) will likely decide the 11th and 12th place conference spots. WSU is favored by 5 ½ points in Vegas.

In a twist, the loser of the game will play at 2:30 against the conference's No. 5 seed while the winner will play the No. 6 seed at 8:30 p.m. (but really more like 9 p.m.).

More after the jump.

...

Don’t expect an exciting game. The two teams are battling for last place in the Pac-12 not only in conference wins, but in average points per game. Well, as much of a battle as it can be with USC averaging 70.6 points to WSU’s 61.8.

The Trojans advantage is negated, however, by the fact that USC is dead last in the conference in scoring defense at 75.9 points per game. WSU’s scoring defense is downright acceptable at 66.9 points per game, which can primarily be attributed to coach Ken Bone’s decision to slow the Cougars down to a snail’s pace to allow his starters to play more minutes and keep the number of possessions down.

Highlighting the degree to which each team has struggled this season: They are the only two Pac-12 schools with a negative point differential, and they are big ones. The Cougars are -5.1 points per game on the season, just a smidge better than USC’s -5.3.

The teams are also among the Pac-12’s bottom three in field goal percentage, rebounding margin, turnover margin and assist to turnover ratio.




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Jacob Thorpe





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