No. 25 Washington State at USC
Tipoff: 4:30 p.m. Pacific today, Galen Center, Los Angeles
Records: WSU 7-1 overall, 5-1 Pac-12 Conference; USC 5-5, 3-5
Players: The awards are piling up for freshman Charlisse Leger-Walker, who — after sending the Cougs past No. 7 Arizona on Sunday with a pair of buzzer-beaters — collected her fourth Pac-12 Freshman of the Week award in five weeks. She leads the Pac-12 in points (18.8) and steals per game (3.25). The Cougars rank 80th nationally in scoring defense (61.1 ppg). USC is short-handed, missing three contributors since the start of the season. The Trojans’ leader is sophomore guard Endyia Rogers, who scores 16.7 ppg. Jordan Sanders (14.7 ppg) is the Pac-12 leader in 3-point shooting percentage, and the Trojans overall hit a respectable 38.3 percent of their deep attempts.
Game themes: This week, the Cougars have gotten more national attention than ever before. After coming back from down 16 points to stun UA, WSU earned its first-ever top-25 ranking from the Associated Press. The NCAA even named WSU its national team of the week, and several analysts are now predicting the Cougs contend to make the NCAA Tournament for just the second time in program history. Wazzu, which hasn’t topped USC in L.A. since 2014, is a favorite today — and that’s been a rarity in league play for decades. WSU is surging, and its fan base has finally emerged to commend the job well done by third-year coach Kamie Ethridge. But the Cougs have made clear they still have much to prove. They certainly wouldn’t want to halt the hype with a road loss here.