5 keys for USC’s Pac-12 regular season finale vs Arizona State

The USC Trojans couldn’t upset Arizona on Thursday night, but they still locked up the 3-seed in the Pac-12 Tournament.

Boogie Ellis exploded and scored 35 points in another sensational performance, and Reese Dixon-Waters played really well, but the rest of the team left much to be desired.

The Trojans face Arizona State on Saturday night in the conclusion of the Pac-12 regular season. The Sun Devils lost to UCLA on Thursday, 79-61.

Both teams entered the week in the bubble conversation, so there is no question about how much this game means for both programs.

Here are five keys as Arizona State faces USC at the Galen Center in an important season finale:


Jan 21, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; USC Trojans head coach Andy Enfield reacts against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the second half at Desert Financial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Can you imagine what would’ve happened against Arizona if Boogie Ellis, Kobe Johnson, and Joshua Morgan weren’t in foul trouble? This should be a massive priority for USC on Saturday and going forward.


Mar 2, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; USC Trojans guard Tre White (22) defends Arizona Wildcats guard Pelle Larsson (3) in the second half at Galen Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The bench play is so important in these grueling tournaments. With Drew Peterson’s health in question, somebody might have to step up, and the bench play has been abysmal all year long for USC.


January 14, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans guard Boogie Ellis (5) shoots the ball against the Utah Utes in the second half at Galen Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Boogie Ellis is one of the hottest players in the entire country. He has five straight games with 15 or more, and four of those five have been 20 or more. Two of those have been carer-highs (33 and then 35). Some teams make deep runs with stars putting up big numbers (remember Kemba Walker?)

If Boogie Ellis stays hot, the Trojans can make some noise in the Pac-12 Tournament and beyond.


Mar 2, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; UCLA Bruins guard Jaylen Clark (0) shoots against Arizona State Sun Devils forward Warren Washington (22) and guard Desmond Cambridge Jr. (4) during the second half at Pauley Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

In the previous meeting, Warren Washington was a problem. The Sun Devils big man scored 21 points with 8 rebounds and was 7-12 from the field.

To make matters worse, Drew Peterson suffered a back injury, and Washington enters with three straight games in double figures in scoring. Andy Enfield and his staff need to contain Warren Washington, or the Sun Devils could bully USC all night long down low.


Feb 23, 2023; Boulder, Colorado, USA; USC Trojans head coach Andy Enfield calls out in the first half against the Colorado Buffaloes at the CU Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

This game means a lot. Yes, USC is already locked into the 3 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament. However, USC entered the week as a bubble team, and so did Arizona State after their stunning win over Arizona.

If USC wins, they not only help their case but also hurt Arizona State’s chances by giving the Devils a two-game L.A. sweep. Urgency and desperation need to define USC’s effort level on Saturday night.

Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire