USC Basketball Game Preview: Oregon Ducks


Oregon Ducks (12-12, 5-7) at USC Trojans (13-11, 5-6)

Head Coach: Dana Altman (Year 1: 12-12)

Conference: Pac-10

Stars: F Joevan Catron, F E.J. Singler

Location: Los Angeles, CA (Galen Center)

Time: 7:30 PM (PDT)

TV: Fox Sports Prime Ticket

Radio: 710 AM

Matchup: USC looks sweep a series for the first time Saturday night against the Oregon Ducks. The Trojans beat Oregon State on Thursday night in another ugly contest. The Beavers managed to outshoot the Trojans, but they were stone cold behind the arc, going 1-9. Nikola Vucevic keyed the offense on 7-13 shooting and Donte Smith added 13 points. However, shooting continues to be an issue. Excluding Vucevic, the Trojans combined to shoot 14-41 (34%).

Oregon arrives at the Galen Center after losing to UCLA on Thursday night. Despite the setback, the Ducks have won four of their last six, including a stunning upset of a ranked Washington team. Star Joevan Catron has stepped up his play and elevated Oregon above their expected level of play.

Catron is the leading scorer for the Ducks, and E.J. Singler averages double digits as well One positive for the Ducks is that they utilize a fairly deep rotation. Seven men average more than 20 minutes, with nine receiving regular playing time. The top two scorers, Joevan Catron and E.J. Singler, are forwards. Oregon likes to move the ball inside and take high percentage looks. The Trojans need to force the guards to knock down shots and keep the ball out of the paint. Another plus for the Ducks is that they create nine steals per game. USC needs to take care of the ball and limit turnovers. Empty possessions are a momentum killer.

USC needs to continue to bring its high energy defense. The Ducks rank 280th in the country in field goal percentage, shooting 41.5 percent. If the Trojans can bring their signature defense, they can limit Oregon like they have other teams. As a result, they wouldn’t need to put up a large amount of points to win the game. They also need to make sure to crash the boards. Alex Stepheson and Nikola Vucevic are beasts inside, and they should be able to take charge in this game. The Trojans need those two to continue to make shots like they have in order to get off to a hot start.

Despite losing to Oregon in the previous meeting, there is hope for USC. First of all, they are playing at home, where they are much better. Secondly, they scored at will against Oregon after they woke up.. The team showed lackadaisical effort in the previous meeting and used a huge run to cut a large deficit. If they show up energized from the tip-off, the chances Oregon builds a large lead are small. On the negative side, the Duck’s leading scorer Joevan Catron will play tonight after missing the first meeting.

Although these two teams are out of the regular season title hunt, Saturday’s game has big implications for Pac-10 tournament seeding. A top-6 seed would mean one less game in the tournament, and that would increase the chances of USC winning the tournament for an automatic bid to the Pac-10 tournament.