No. 17 Southern California will go for its eighth consecutive victory and a season sweep of Arizona when it hosts the Wildcats on Saturday in Los Angeles.
USC (18-3, 12-2 Pac-12) hasn’t swept two regular-season games from Arizona (14-8, 8-8) since the 2006-2007 season. The Trojans lead the Pac-12 by one game over UCLA, which used a hot-shooting second half to defeat the visiting Wildcats 74-60 on Thursday night.
The Trojans are looking for at least a share of the conference title for the first time since the 1984-85 season. They haven’t won it outright since 1960-61.
USC is surging behind freshman big man Evan Mobley, the potential No. 1 NBA draft pick who is averaging 16.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game. But the Trojans are getting team-wide contributions from game to game, including from Mobley’s older brother, Isaiah, a sophomore.
Isaiah Mobley scored a career-high 20 points with 12 rebounds in Wednesday’s 89-71 victory over visiting Arizona State.
“It seems like when I get going, the team gets going,” Isaiah Mobley said. “It feels like I’ve been lacking in some of the games. I just want to make a run, both as a team and myself for the team.”
Evan Mobley had 22 points and nine rebounds against the smaller Sun Devils, making 9-of-11 shots from the field and finding time to hand out seven assists, showing off his patience and high basketball IQ.
“Evan was really good at reading the defense,” said USC coach Andy Enfield. “That’s what he’s capable of doing. He looked like Tom Brady with the ball in his hands, reading the defense and making the right play.”
The Mobley brothers help Southern California control the glass — No. 1 in the conference in rebounding margin (8.4). And the Trojans lead the Pac-12 in field goal percentage defense (38.3).
Evan Mobley had 19 points and 11 rebounds on Jan. 7 in an 87-73 victory at Arizona. Azuolas Tubelis poured in 31 for the Wildcats on 11-of-16 shooting, but his teammates were just 14 of 46 from the field.
The Wildcats, who are ineligible for the postseason due to a self-imposed one-season ban while waiting for a ruling from an independent panel on an NCAA investigation into infractions, are staggering to the finish line. They have lost five of their past seven games.
“Well, that is the challenge,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said of motivation with three scheduled games remaining. “Is it a challenge for me or our staff? Absolutely.”
Tubelis was a bright spot against UCLA with 18 points and eight rebounds. James Akinjo scored 21 against the Bruins, but he and Tubelis didn’t have enough help. They combined for 14 baskets; the rest of the team had seven.
Akinjo averages a team-best 14.6 points per game. Tubelis is at 12.0.
Arizona has lost two games in a row, leaving Miller stuck at 299 wins in his 12th season with the Wildcats.
Arizona hasn’t been swept in four games by both Los Angeles schools since the 2006-07 season, the last for coach Lute Olson on the Wildcats’ sideline.
–Field Level Media
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