USC Basketball Game Preview: Oregon State Beavers


Oregon State Beavers (9-13, 4-7) at USC Trojans (12-11, 4-6)

Head Coach: Craig Robinson (Year 3: 41-48)

Conference: Pac-10

Stars: G Jared Cunningham, G Calvin Haynes

Location: Los Angeles, CA (Galen Center)

Time: 8:00 PM (PDT)

TV: Fox Sports Net

Radio: 830 AM

Matchup: USC returns home from a three game road trip to take on Oregon State on Thursday night. The Trojans, who haven’t played in eight days, have lost five of their last seven and are headed in the wrong direction in the standings. Coach Kevin O’Neill remains optimistic, telling reporters earlier in the week that he believes the program is ahead of his rebuilding plan. UCLA scored at will against a porous USC defense and the Trojans looked stagnant on offense.

Oregon State has lost seven of their last nine games. One of those wins came against USC in Eugene, and the other inexplicably came against Washington last Thursday. The Beavers have beaten the top two teams in the conference, but havent fared well against the rest of the league. Nevertheless, they seem to be maximizing their talent as they have slightly exceeded expectations.

Oregon State killed USC with a 1-3-1 zone in the first , USC needs to knock down its shots and free throws. Getting to the line doesn’t help if the team doesn’t collect the points. Another way to combat the zone is to get the ball inside. Alex Stepheson is a fantastic, but he can’t be effective if he has to take jump shots from outside the paint. The Trojans perfected attacking the zone against Kansas, and they need to get back to that style of offense. Against the Jayhawks, a guard would feed Vucevic or Stepheson inside. If no one came over to help, the big men were free to take on their defender. If they received a double team, the big men could pass out to an open guard for an easy jumper. Somehow, the Trojans have gotten away from this plan in subsequent games and their offensive production has suffered.

The Beavers use a deep nine man rotation, and their scoring is rather spread out. Guards Jared Cunningham and Calvin Hayes both average double figures. Cunningham is a sharp shooter, shooting just over 42% from beyond the arc.  Much like Oregon, Oregon State doesn’t shoot the ball particularly well. USC needs to bring intensity from the very beginning in order to ensure that the Beavers have trouble scoring. In the first contest, USC lackadaisically played the first 30 minutes of the game and found themselves trailing by a sizable margin. They turned on the jets late, but it was too little too late. If they want to save face at home, the Trojans must come out with intensity.