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Ben Ball Gameday Roundup

On this game day we all need to zero in and reflect on Menelaus's important post re the status of Pauley restoration. So I will keep this roundup fairly short. Robert Kuwada from the OC Register leads with the topic of guarding Mayo:

O.J. Mayo will take his shots. That is what he does - like few others, in fact.

The USC freshman has taken 264 shots in 16 games, which at the start of the week was more than any other player in the Pac-10 and more than all but one player in any of the six power conferences in college basketball.

The UCLA Bruins know this, as well as the key in slowing Mayo is to make sure that the 3-pointer goes up from 25 feet, rather than 20; that the shot in or around the lane is contested, taken when off balance or rushed. Any one or all of the preceding would help considerably against the Trojans' guard, who went for 32 points in his first college game and has scored 20 or more points seven times.

While the Bruins' own freshman, Kevin Love, is tangling with Taj Gibson, UCLA on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion will try to harass Mayo into bad shots and mistakes. That also is what he has done - like few others. The Trojans' guard has turned over the basketball 63 times, which was more than any other player in the conference and more than all but two players in the Big East, Big 10, Big 12, Atlantic Coast or Southeastern conferences.
One person Kuwada omits from his story is Russell Westbrook. We know that even though RW is going to come off the bench he will draw a sizable chunk of the team defense assignment against OJ2, as he will get help from Luc and DC.

Besides Mayo and Gibson (and I imagine Love is fired up for that matchup) Southern Cal has other talented athletes in their roster. Jump after the flip for rest of the roundup.

Bruin Basketball Report as usual has a preview of the game with a look at all the matchups:

At the other guard spot, the Trojans will either start Daniel Hackett (6'5, 205, So) or Angelo Johnson (5'11, 180, Fr). Floyd started Johnson against Washington due to the match-up against speedy Venoy Overton and it wouldn't be a surprise if Johnson got the nod against UCLA's Darren Collison for defensive purposes.

Hackett has struggled with his outside shooting of late although he's still averaging 10.7 points a game and leads the team in assists at 3.7. Johnson is a quick guard who is averaging 4.4 points on 41.4% shooting and 35.7% on three-pointers.

Davon Jefferson (6'8, 215, Fr) is a very athletic player but has been inconsistent in his play all season. He's averaging 11.8 points on 53.8% field goal shooting and 5.5 rebounds a game. Jefferson has also dealt with team disciplinary issues, having missed four games for various reasons this season.

A tough match-up when he's focused, Jefferson can attack the basket, in addition, his size and length can cause problems on defense. Alfred Aboya will get the initial start against Jefferson but Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will likely get the most minutes against him, especially if he has healed from a groin pull injury he suffered at practice on Monday. If Mbah a Moute is unable to contribute significant minutes, then sophomore James Keefe will log major minutes.

At the wing spot is Dwight Lewis (6'5, 215, So), a returning starter from last season, he has been solid this season, averaging 11.1 points on 49.6% shooting and 34.2% from three point distance. Lewis is constantly moving and cutting, usually finding himself around the ball. He is good defender and perhaps the most consistent player on the team, providing stability on a young club. Lewis and Josh Shipp will likely lock horns for most of the contest.
I think we really have to keep a close eye on Shipp. In some ways he often serves as a catalyst for that team working under the radar while Majo, Jefferson, Gibson and even Hackett grabs the headlines. Josh will have his hands full guarding him.

Again it will be foolish for our Ben Ball warriors to come in this game relaxed and taking these guys lightly. They will have to come in with the same fire and intensity they have showed during the Pac-10 season. Otherwise it will be a tough afternoon at Pauley.