Tipoff: 3 p.m., today, Galen Center, Los Angeles
TV: Fox Sports Northwest
Records: USC 8-6 overall, 1-0 Pac-10 Conference; Washington State 10-3, 0-1 Pac-10 Conference
Players: Nikola Vucevic, a 6-foot-10 junior center, has been a gem for the Trojans, leading the Pac-10 in rebounds (9.9 rpg) while putting up 16.1 points a night. Fordham transfer Jio Fontan, who became eligible at the semester break, is averaging 15.8 points and just over three assists in four games. Maurice Jones (10.9 ppg, 4 apg) is another crafty guard for USC. Klay Thompon (22.6 ppg) and Faisal Aden (16.3 ppg), who combined for 45 of their team’s points in an 80-71 loss to UCLA on Wednesday, lead the Cougars.
Game themes: After dropping their Pac-10 openers on Wednesday in contrasting fashion, both the Cougars and Trojans are looking to avoid a dreaded 0-2 conference start. USC, which fell to league-favorite Washington in overtime on its own floor, is one of the Pac-10’s more talented clubs and has wins over then-No. 20 Texas, No. 18 Tennessee and narrowly lost to No. 3 Kansas (60-58). But the Trojans have also fallen to unheralded Rider, Bradley, TCU and Nebraska – consistency akin to city rival UCLA. Fontan’s recent eligibility, however, has USC looking like a team that has the aptitude to finish in the league’s upper tier.The Cougars two-week, six-game road trip comes to halt at the Galen Center, which is music to their ears. With losses to Butler and the Bruins in their last two games, the Cougars evoked bad memories of last year’s swoon. They’ll be looking to buck the trend – and find their second-half legs – in this meeting.