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Bennie Boatwright is getting healthier and that should help USC's chances against Arizona State

Bennie Boatwright is getting healthier and that should help USC's chances against Arizona State
USC's Bennie Boatwright, center, battles Oregon's Elijah Brown for a loose ball as Paul White (13) looks on during a game Jan. 18. (Chris Pietsch / Associated Press)

USC is expected to be near full strength as the team embarks on a difficult trip to the desert.

Junior forward Bennie Boatwright, who was sidelined for victories over Stanford and California and played sparingly in a loss at UCLA, is expected to come off the bench and play significant minutes Thursday at Arizona State and Saturday at No. 13 Arizona.

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"This is the best I've felt in awhile," Boatwright said after practice Tuesday. "I've been running a lot after practice, trying to get my wind better and I feel good."

Boatwright, who averages 14.4 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, has spent more than two weeks dealing with a blister on his foot that became infected.

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Boatwright struggled as a reserve against the Bruins. He went 0 for 5 from the field, including 0 for 3 from beyond the three-point line, and had two points in nine minutes.

"He just wasn't in shape and his timing was off," coach Andy Enfield said. "It's hard when you're out two weeks.

"But we've been very impressed with him the last two days in practices."

Boatwright's ability to contribute will be crucial against the Sun Devils (17-6, 5-6 Pac-12 Conference).

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After giving up 82 points on 51% shooting against the Bruins, the Trojans (17-7, 8-3) must recommit to playing defense with the same tenacity that propelled them to a six-game winning streak.

"When we get stops we can score," Boatwright said.

UP NEXT

AT ARIZONA STATE

When: Thursday, 8 p.m. PST.

Where: Wells Fargo Arena, Tempe, Ariz.

On the air: TV: ESPN2; Radio: 830.

Update: USC's six-game winning streak, its longest in the Pac-12 since 1992, ended Saturday with a 82-79 loss at UCLA, but the Trojans remain second in the conference behind Arizona . Junior forward Chimezie Metu leads USC in scoring and rebounding, averaging 15.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. The Trojans have lost five games in a row to the Sun Devils at Wells Fargo Arena. Arizona State, once ranked No. 3 in the nation, fell out of the top 25 this week. The Sun Devils are led by senior guard Tra Holder, who is averaging 19 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists.

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Follow Lindsey Thiry on Facebook and Twitter @LindseyThiry

Follow Lindsey Thiry on Facebook and Twitter @LindseyThiry

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