February 17, 2011

On the road to LA-LA Land

The Cardinal are heading south for their most challenging weekend of the conference season to play:
  • USC on Friday at 7:00 pm. The game will be webcast by USC All*Access.
  • UCLA on Saturday at noon. The game will be telecast by FSN/CSNBA.
If you'd like to watch the games on bigger screens that you have at home, join your fellow fans at Mike's Sports Bar & Grill. Note that the USC game on Friday is at prime dinner time — come early to be sure to get a seat. Both games will also be broadcast by KZSU, with Jake Kelman doing the play-by-play and Ros Gold-Onwude as the game analyst.

These games are huge for all three teams.

The Cardinal will be fighting to stay all alone at the top of the Pac-10 and keep its probable #1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Although the Cardinal trounced the Trojans 95-51 and the Bruins 64-38 earlier this season at Maples, the games at the Galen Center and Pauley Pavilion will be something else again. The games in L.A. have traditionally been a battle for the Cardinal, occasionally a disastrous one.

The UCLA Bruins will no doubt bring their most aggressive defense to their second crack at the Cardinal for a share of the Pac-10 title.

Under third-year coach Nikki Caldwell, the Bruins have set new UCLA records for best overall start to a season (21-2) and best start to a conference season (11-1).

The Bruins are ranked #9 in both national polls and predicted by Charlie Creme to be a #2 seed in the NCAA tournament. Since we last played, they have won six games against Cal, USC, the Arizona schools and the Oregon schools. Except for the game against Oregon, they were low-scoring games with a fairly small win margin (on average, about nine points).

The Bruins lead the Pac-10 in steals (11.58), in rebounding defense (29.8) and in turnover margin (+4.5). They are second to the Cardinal in seven other categories. Jasmine Dixon leads the Pac-10 in field goal percentage (61.3%)

The USC Trojans began this season as strong contenders for the Pac-10 title. They went 8-3 in a tough non-conference schedule — their best start in 16 years. But they've followed that with an inconsistent conference season and are now 15-8. With just six more games, they probably need at least one win this weekend to get into the NCAA tournament.

The Trojans are struggling to hold on to third place in the Pac-10. Arizona State, Cal and Washington State are all just one game behind them.

The Trojans have done pretty well since we last met. They defeated Arizona and the Oregon schools, lost to UCLA and lost to ASU (by one point!). They return home this weekend with the momentum of road wins against Oregon and OSU, in which Jackie Gemelos scored a total of 28 points, Ashley Corral scored a total of 30 points and Briana Gilbreath had two double-doubles (19-13 and 14-10).

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