USC and Arizona Look to Avoid a Three-Game Losing Streak

Doug Upstone

Saturday, February 10, 2018 6:51 PM UTC

Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018 6:51 PM UTC

It was thought this contest might be for first place in the Pac-12, but nobody figured that both USC and Arizona would be on two-game losing streaks and someone is staring at a third straight setback.

USC Trojans at Arizona Wildcats

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Free Basketball Pick: USC +6.5Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

Yet, that is exactly what happened as Trojans and Wildcats fell in the Grand Canyon State on Thursday night. USC committed 12 more turnovers than Arizona State, which made losing 80-78 that much more painful, knowing they beat themselves.

Arizona was playing fairly well, then were blitzed 17-5 at the end of the first half by UCLA in Tucson and trailed 44-34 and the Wildcats never made a serious second half run.

The college basketball odds have Arizona as a six-point favorite over the Men of Troy on Saturday night. This battle will start at 8:15 MST on ESPN (7:15 Pacific for those not quite sure on the time) and both should play with tremendous urgency.

USC Needs To Finish

In falling to UCLA and Arizona State in the past two games, one thing that stands out is the Trojans inability to make big shots and close out games. That happened in the last two minutes at Pauley Pavilion and in Tempe Thursday. USC (17-8, 15-9-1 ATS) didn't score in the final 2:28 and committed three of their turnovers in that stretch.

What finally looked to be a mature squad has regressed to what we have seen the last couple years, where the Trojans beat themselves. "They played hard enough to win but as a team, we made too many mistakes," USC coach Andy Enfield said. "When you have that many small things, it adds up in a game like this. We're going to stick together and try to win on Saturday."

That will require trusting each other on offense and defense for 40 minutes, not 37 or 38 like we have seen the past two contests.

Arizona is Talented and Disjointed

Selection Sunday is a month from tomorrow and Arizona (19-6) still has a lot of work to do. Coach Sean Miller has the most talented team in the Pac-12, which has become the norm, but this group has not come together. Center Deandre Ayton is at worst considered a Top 5 NBA pick and guard Allonzo Trier is a first-round draft choice when he comes out. Plus, there are many other quality players on the Wildcats.

Yet, this group cannot get it together and is like several other talented but very youthful teams in the country, that can score but lacks the defensive desire, which relates to killer instinct. "We're a much better offensive team than defense. That's the truth," coach Miller said. "I think the gap has never been bigger and it's up to us to continue to work."

This has shown with the Wildcats 8-16-1 ATS record, not coming close to market expectations.

Who Wins and Covers?

For college basketball picks, we know Arizona has not been a good bet this season, which is partly why I will side with USC. The Trojans are 10-3 ATS in their last 13 away outings and a sensational 9-2 ATS if their opponent wins 60 or more percent of their games on the season.

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