Thursday’s NCAAB Game of the Day: Arizona at USC

Arizona Wildcats at USC Trojans (+3.5, 143.5)

Lauri Markkanen, Dusan Ristic and Kadeem Allen have been performing at their highest levels of the season for No. 13 Arizona, and the trio will try to maintain their hot hands Thursday night at USC in a Pac-12 game. Meanwhile, USC hopes junior guard Elijah Stewart – who is shooting 30 percent from the field in conference play after hitting on 44.2 percent of his attempts during the non-conference portion of the schedule – can find his touch again.

Markkanen is coming off a career-high 30 points against Arizona State after putting up 22 the game before against Colorado. The 7-0 forward from Finland was a combined 8-for-12 from 3-point range in those games to bump his season mark to 46.5 percent, and also leads the team in rebounding (7.4). Ristic, a fellow 7-0 starter, has scored from 16 to 18 points in all five conference games and is shooting 64.8 from the floor in those contests while Allen produced his season high of 18 points in each of the last two outings – notching 12 assists and just three turnovers combined in those wins. The Trojans come in off a 71-68 win at Colorado on Sunday.

TV: 9 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network

LINE HISTORY: Arizona opened as 4.5-road favorites Wednesday night but by Thursday morning that number has been bet down to 3.5. The total hit the board at 143.5 and has yet to move off that opening number. Check out the complete line history here.

WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “USC went 16-0 SU in non-conference play, but has gone just 3-3 SU in conference games.  Arizona went 11-2 SU during non-conference play, but is a perfect 5-0 SU so far in Pac-12 games.  The difference has been shooting as the Trojans are being out-shot 39.5% to 45.1% in conference games, while the Wildcats are out-shooting their Pac-12 opponents 50.4% to 41.0% this season.” – Covers Expert Steve Merril.

INJURY REPORT:

Arizona – G Allonzo Trier (Out indefinitely, suspension), G Dylan Smith (out for season, eligibility), F Talbott Denny (out for season, knee)

USC – F Bennie Boatwright (late Jan, knee)

COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Arizona (-16.5) – USC (-9.2) + home court (-3.0) = Arizona -4.3

MATCHUP CHART:

ABOUT ARIZONA (16-2 SU, 9-7-2 ATS, 9-8-1 O/U): Allen’s contributions might be the most impressive, as the 6-3 combo guard was forced to take on extra minutes when opening-night starter Parker Jackson-Cartwright missed six games last month with a high ankle sprain, and the senior hasn’t given that playing time back. The Wildcats have also been boosted by the 6-5 freshman backcourt of Kobi Simmons and Rawle Alkins, who haven’t been as consistent as the other three starters but they’ve helped fill the void of Allonzo Trier – still mysteriously ineligible. Scoring depth remains an issue, as no player averages six points or more beyond the five starters.

ABOUT USC (16-3 SU, 9-9 ATS, 9-9 O/U): The last time the Trojans hosted Arizona, the game went to a fourth overtime before Stewart hit two free throws with 22 seconds left and Allen missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer in the 103-101 win by USC – the first quadruple overtime game in Wildcat history. The Trojans could use any kind of lift heading into this game, so perhaps the memory of that effort could spark players like Stewart, who matched his then-career-high with 27 points in the affair. Stewart set a new mark with 30 in the season opener two months ago, but hasn’t scored more than 11 in nine of the last 10 games.

CHEERLEADER WAR:

TRENDS:

* Wildcats are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 road games.
* Trojans are 0-7 ATS in their last 7 games following a straight up win.
* Over is 4-1 in Wildcats last 5 overall.
* Over is 8-2 in Trojans last 10 home games.
* Over is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings.

Check out a complete list of hot and cold trends, here.
 
COVERS CONSENSUS: 70 percent of the picks on Covers are siding with the road favorite Arizona Wildcats and Over did not have a consensus on Covers at the time of this preview. View full consensus data here.


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