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Men’s basketball will face the Bruins after two losses

first_imgRedshirt senior guard Shaqquan Aaron and redshirt freshman guard Shalexxus Aaron play one-on-one at the Galen Center practice courts. (Tucker Judkins/Daily Trojan) After an Oregon trip filled with distractions and tough defeats, the Trojans are looking to steer their season back in the right direction with a home win over crosstown rival UCLA. Even though both players are currently  top-five scorers in the conference, their methods couldn’t be more different. Look for Boatwright to play an efficient game both near the basket and out on the perimeter, while Wilkes will operate with an unchallenged green light, as his 247 field goal attempts suggest. He leads the Pac-12 in shot attempts. “He has not been cleared to compete in games,” Enfield said. “He’s working on some things off the court and he has very clear expectations that he has to meet. As he progresses, we will re-evaluate his status to participate in competition.” “He’s kind of a bruiser and a big guy, so it’s going to be fun to go up against somebody like that,” Rakocevic said. “As good as he is, that matchup should be a lot of fun to see.” Enfield attributed the team’s debacle in Eugene to “distractions.” Chief among them was the abrupt indefinite suspension of projected lottery pick and freshman guard Kevin Porter Jr. Porter’s status was set to be re-evaluated upon the team’s return to campus, but it remains as much of a mystery today as it was in Oregon. However, those upperclassmen have tough matchups awaiting them on Saturday afternoon. No matchup will be more anticipated than the duel between two of the Pac-12’s best scorers — UCLA sophomore forward Kris Wilkes and USC senior forward Bennie Boatwright. The other marquee matchup to look forward to is the interior battle between Rakocevic and UCLA freshman center Moses Brown. At 7-foot-1, Brown will be one of the toughest matchups for Rakocevic in conference play. center_img “Coming off a two-game losing streak, we’re kind of hoping this is a game we can bounce back from,” junior forward Nick Rakocevic said. “We want to be put in a good position for the rest of the Pac-12. This is going to be a big win for us.” However, the Trojans should be able to combat this newfound Bruin offense, seeing as they’ve given up over 80 points just once over their last six games. That one game, a blowout road loss to an undermanned Oregon Ducks squad, is an outlier in the recent strides USC has made over the last month and is a game the Trojans can’t wait to put behind them. Not knowing whether his star freshman will be in uniform or in street clothes, Enfield will have to rely on the steady hands of upperclassmen, as he has been doing for much of the season. “For five games, we’ve played very good defense,” head coach Andy Enfield said. “We played well on offense, our turnovers are way down, and our assist totals are up. The only game we played poorly in the last six games has been the Oregon game.” The Bruins are 3-1 in conference play, with their only loss to Oregon State. Since moving on from head coach Steve Alford, UCLA’s offensive game has noticeably improved; they are averaging over 85 points per game under interim head coach Murry Bartow. The Bruins will walk into the Galen Center as the leading scorers of the Pac-12. That matchup and more will be on display Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Galen Center as USC looks to improve to 3-2 in Pac-12 play with a win over UCLA.last_img read more