USC (14-17, 9-9 in the Pac-12) had an awful start to the season, losing eight games in a ten-game stretch. The Trojans eventually fired Kevin O'Neill in mid-January as a result of the team's poor play. Replacement coach Bob Cantu guided USC back to respectability, sweeping Stanford, beating UCLA in Pauley and upsetting Arizona. The Trojans could never quite get over .500, though.
In their Pac-12 Tournament first-round game against Utah, USC will have to make do without Dewayne Dedmon and James Blasczyk, the team's two seven footers. Both were suspended for a supposed fighting incident in Spokane. The Trojans will have to rely more on Jio Fontan, Eric Wise, and J.T. Terrell to carry the workload.
Utah (13-17, 5-13 in the Pac-12) didn't have quite as much success. After performing well in their non-conference slate, the Utes slid back to cellar-dweller status when they dropped 13 of their first 16 conference games. The Utes rallied at the end of the season with two wins over the Oregon schools. Utah is led by Jordan Loveridge (the team's young freshman guard), Jarred DuBois (the senior point guard) and Jason Washburn (Utah's best big man).
USC played Utah once this year in Salt Lake City, winning by a final score of 76-59.
The winner of this game will take on second-seeded California Thursday night at 9 p.m. ET.
Game time, TV: 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT, Pac-12 Network
Location: MGM Grand Arena, Las Vegas
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