HQ prediction: USC 68, UI 66

Beat writer Marcus Jackson has Illinois losing its Maui Invite opener:

Sneak peek: Illinois vs. Southern Cal, 11 tonight

Lineups
Illinois (3-0)
STARTERS

P    Name    Yr.    Ht.    PPG
G    Tracy Abrams    So.    6-1    16.7
G    D.J. Richardson    Sr.    6-3    11.0
G    Brandon Paul    Sr.    6-4    19.7
F    Tyler Griffey    Sr.    6-9    9.7
F    Nnanna Egwu    So.    6-11    7.0
FYI: Abrams tied his career high with 22 points to go along with five rebounds in Friday’s overtime victory.
OFF THE BENCH
G    Joseph Bertrand    Jr.    6-6    5.3
F    Myke Henry    So.    6-6    2.7
F    Sam McLaurin    Sr.    6-8    4.3

Southern California (2-0)
STARTERS

P    Name    Yr.    Ht.    PPG
G    Gio Fontan    Sr.    6-0    4.5
G    J.T. Terrell    Jr.    6-3    13.5
G    Byron Wesley    So.    6-5    11.5
F    Dewayne Dedmon    Jr.    7-0    6.5
F    Eric Wise    Sr.    6-6    8.5
FYI: If you combine the career scoring averages of all the players on the USC roster, it comes to 87.8 points per game.
OFF THE BENCH
C    Omar Orbay    Jr.    7-2    10.5
F    Ari Stewart    Jr.    6-7    7.5
G    Greg Allen    Sr.    6-3    4.0

Details
Site: Lahaina Civic Center, Lahaina, Hawaii (16,618).

TV: ESPN2 — Sean McDonough (play-by-play), Jay Bilas (analyst) and Bill Raftery (analyst) call the action.

Radio: Brian Barnhart (play-by-play) and former Illini Jerry Hester (expert analysis) have the call on WDWS 1400-AM, WDAN 1490-AM, WHMS 97.5-FM, WDNL 102.1-FM and WPXN 104.9-FM.

Series: USC leads 6-2. Last meeting: UI 90, USC 77, March 14, 1997.

FYI: Hester’s father, Jerry Hester Sr., died Friday. The younger Hester called Friday’s game after receiving the news and has decided to stay in Hawaii to call the three games in Maui.

Marcus Jackson’s storylines

1

Anyone recognize these Trojans? Much like it’s difficult to get a good scouting report on the Illini early in the season playing in a new system, USC has a roster composed of a bunch of new faces. Five transfers will see significant action for the Trojans, who are looking to bounce back from a 6-26 season in which they went 1-17 in the Pac-12. Terrell, a transfer from Wake Forest, will be a challenging matchup for the Illini guards.

2
After the Illini cruised to easy wins in the first two games of the season, much was made about the fact that the team hadn’t been “popped in the mouth” yet. Well, Hawaii gave the Illini its best shot Friday and Illinois recovered to win the thriller in overtime. “It gives our guys the concept that you’ve got to play 40 minutes, and I thought we showed great resolve,” coach John Groce said. “You’ve got to deal with adversity and success.” The Illinois team that was broken at the end of last season wouldn’t have been able to come back from 16 down on the road. This group continues to show it’s refreshed.

3
Hawaii’s bigs gave the Illini problems Friday night with its three front-court starters combining for 44 points and 23 rebounds. USC’s front court is bigger and potentially more dangerous, meaning Nnanna Egwu, Tyler Griffey and Sam McLaurin will likely have to be more productive than they were Friday. The trio combined for 11 points and 13 rebounds against the Rainbow Warriors. “We want and have gotten more production out of our 4 and 5s and we’re going to need that moving forward,” Groce said.

Prediction: USC 68, Illinois 66
The Illini were fortunate to escape Hawaii with that overtime win Friday. The backcourt trio of Paul, Abrams and Richardson were outstanding and will need a similar effort against the new-look Trojans. But even after the 3-0 start, the Illini are still a work in progress. “It’s still early, our system is relatively new to these guys. We’re a new staff, we’ve got some experience, we’ve got an older team so I think that does allow our guys to pick up things a little more quickly than normal,” Groce said. (N-G record: 3-0).

Comments

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bernies wrote on November 19, 2012 at 9:11 am

I'm going to go out on a limb and predict an Illini win, 75-71.

mulefloyd wrote on November 19, 2012 at 10:11 am

Come on MJ!

It's too early and this team has shown too much past talent and current promise to jump off the bandwagon already. IL 79 USC 78.

penniless wrote on November 19, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Just one little bitty problem,our bigs like to shoot 3s and refuse to drive to the rim,fade aways,stop and pops and 3s keeps your jaw intact.No busted lips equal  USC 73   Illini 65

PeterE wrote on November 20, 2012 at 12:11 pm

It's no wonder with your inability to analyze and judge correctly you're penniless.

 

FYI: Illini trample USC Trojans with nationwide audience watching on ESPN 94-64.

IlliniMike05 wrote on November 19, 2012 at 2:11 pm

He's a reporter. He's not supposed to be on any bandwagon.

geriatricillini wrote on November 19, 2012 at 2:11 pm

In the world of betting bucks and no emotion, we are currently (2:50pm Friday) a 3 point dog in this one...over/under is 110...that would be 57-54 or 56-53, USC.... or in that ballpark somewhere. So Marcus is pretty close to what the money gurus say on the point spread at least...

aaeismacgychel wrote on November 20, 2012 at 2:11 am

We played lights out that first half.  That was the best half of basketball we played since our OSU game last year.  Everyone was making shots and we were firing on all cylinders.  A lot of that was due to good movement away from the ball, good screens, outstanding calls on inbound passes, and really good decisions.  Of course the fact that we were making jumpshots unlike last year also was a big reason we blew USC out of the gym.  But what I was most impressed with was our defense.  We played a hard frenetic feisty defense that first half that completely took USC out of their offense and made them play at a pace they were not accustomed to.  The second half was sloppy, but when things started really slipping, Brandon Paul made two threes that bottomed out the net, had two steals, and one bringing down the house lob assist to Bertrand who slammed it down for the And 1.  Very impressive overall game, but I warn people not to put too much on this blowout win.  When a team plays at the level we did and everyone is draining shots from all over, you'll beat the best teams in the country, but the question is can you play consistently and can you make sure you don't have a letdown the next game.  Next game tomorrow is Chaminade.  Let's show our maturity and take care of business unlike Texas who overlooked them and were spanked.

Great game Illini, but remember, this is just one game (even though it was an 'A' game that was extremely impressive), the real test is coming off a great game and winning the next one against an easy to look over but dangerous opponent.  GO ILLINI! 

illini4fan wrote on November 20, 2012 at 4:11 am

Yea beautiful job by the Illini! The first half was pretty but even in the second half when shots were not falling as well they were moving well and playing with high intensity playing good defense and no standing around waiting for someone to make a shot and throwing up a last second shot like we did the last few years!!! So much more fun to watch, i am so excited about the new coach and the direction the basketball team is headed i could just jump thru the tv screen and give John Groce a big hug!!! GO ILLINI!!!

grapplinfool wrote on November 20, 2012 at 10:11 am

Horrible prediction MJ. Not just saying that after the fact. Didn't catch the prediction just now. EVERYONE gets trapped in that Hawaii game. Didn't they beat Michigan State(ranked top 10) a few years back in the same situation? Then you predict a team full of retreads from no where to win? Can we do the MNF segment?? C'mon man!

bernies wrote on November 20, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Right after I read MJ's piece I predicted an Illini win. But no way in heck did I think the margin would be 94-64!!