College Hoops

USC defense vs South Dakota State offense: Something’s gotta give

USC defense vs South Dakota State offense: Something’s gotta give

The USC Trojans and South Dakota State Jackrabbits will not look across the way on Friday evening in Blacksburg, Va., and see a mirror image of themselves. Anything but.

This is a battle of opposites, teams from opposite realms of basketball philosophy.

USC tries to make the game hard for its opponent. South Dakota State tries to make halfcourt offense easy for itself. USC tries to disrupt. South Dakota State tries to flow and take flight. USC is cohesive on defense, South Dakota State on offense.

The numbers back up these identity statements.

USC allows 54.8 points per game, a number which is actually lower if limited to regulation time due to the fact that several Trojan games have gone to overtime.

South Dakota State scores 79.4 points per game, the product of a symphonic offense which makes sweet music on the court with ball movement and shared success. No one feels the need to take the credit. A team-oriented mentality guides the Jackrabbits on offense, much as the same team mentality exists for the Trojans on defense.

You can tell how much pride both teams take in what they do best: SDSU scoring big in most games this season, USC handcuffing elite teams such as Stanford multiple times at the offensive end of the floor.

Great sports contests are often forged in and through a contrast of styles: Martina Navratilova’s slashing, attacking net play versus Chris Evert’s baseline consistency and defense. Roger Federer’s fluid first-strike tennis versus Rafael Nadal’s defense, enhanced by his left-handed topspin and signature tenacity. The Los Angeles Lakers’ fast-break engine versus the Boston Celtics’ rugged halfcourt toughness.

USC’s defense versus South Dakota State’s offense could create that same contrast. We will see if the game is remembered as something special.

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