A pair of 2022 NCAA Tournament teams meet Wednesday in Phoenix for the Jerry Colangelo Classic, as red-hot Southern California looks for its sixth consecutive win when it faces Colorado State.
The Trojans (9-3) are coming off what head coach Andy Enfield called their “biggest win of the year by far,” holding off then-No. 19-ranked Auburn, 74-71. USC forced 23 turnovers in the home victory, six of which were the result of Kobe Johnson steals.
In addition to Johnson’s career-high in steals, Boogie Ellis scored a career-high 28 points.
“[Sunday] was definitely a resume game,” Ellis said following the win, via USC basketball on Twitter. “So we’ve got to keep building on that.”
USC aims to continue building its case for a third consecutive NCAA Tournament bid against an opponent coming off a signature win of its own in the campaign to date.
Colorado State (8-4) endured some disappointment early in a 2022-23 season with lofty expectations after last year’s 25-6 finish. The first few weeks of this season included a loss to a Northern Colorado team ranked No. 207 nationally per KenPom.com metrics.
The Rams rebounded on Sunday, however, scoring a 62-60 win at Saint Mary’s — No. 22 in the nation per KenPom.com. Colorado State forced Saint Mary’s into three turnovers in the game’s final 96 seconds and allowed just one shot attempt — which was blocked — from the Gaels over that stretch.
“This is as good of a win as we’ve had here,” Rams coach Niko Medved told The Coloradoan following the game.
Isaiah Stevens scored 23 points at Saint Mary’s, his third game with at least 20 points since returning from a broken foot on Nov. 30. He is averaging 19 points per game to lead a Rams offense that ranks in the top 20 nationally in both 3-point shooting percentage — 39.8 percent as a team – and 2-point shooting at 58.6 percent.
USC, meanwhile, has the nation’s eighth-best, field-goal defense against 2-point shots at 41 percent. Joshua Morgan’s 3.1 blocked shots per game have helped bolster the Trojans’ interior defense.
–Field Level Media