USC vs. Oregon: Men’s Basketball Preview


Jan, 10, 2013; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks guard Fred Richardson III (5) in a team huddle before the game against the Arizona Wildcats at Matthew Knight Arena. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

USC Trojans vs. Oregon Ducks

Galen Center | Los Angeles, CA8:00 PM Pacific | ESPN U

New Head Coach Bob Cantu will lead his USC Trojans against the 21st ranked Oregon Ducks on Thursday Night. At 2-2 in conference play, the Trojans have surpassed last season’s Pac-12 win total, and currently sit tied for sixth in the conference.

Cantu is in his 12th season with the USC basketball program and 17th at the collegiate level, and this is his second time as head coach with the Trojans, as in 2011, he was thrust into the  role hours before USC’s Pac-10 Tournament semifinal game against regular season champion Arizona.

The Oregon Ducks head into the Galen Center as one of the hottest teams in the Pac-12, winners of five straight and nine out of the last 10. Dana Altman is in his third season at the helm for Oregon, and has led the Ducks to 20-plus wins in each of his first two campaigns.

Altman brought in one of the best UO recruiting classes in recent decades, led by freshmen Damyean Dotson and Dominic Artis both of whom are four-star recruits. Impressive wins over UNLV and Arizona have Altman’s crew prime for another NCAA Tournament run this season.

The key to the Ducks success has been on offense, averaging 72 points per game in Pac-12 play. A big reason behind this success stems from rebounding the basketball. Oregon is leading the Pac-12 in rebounding with 39 boards per contest, while allowing an astonishingly 30.75 boards. Not only does Oregon rebound, but they also pick the opposing teams pocket, leading the conference with 9.4 steals.

Freshmen sensation Damyean Dotson has taken the conference by storm, scoring 11.8 points while shooting 49 percent from the field. Against Oregon State, Dotson scored 21 points carrying the Ducks to a 79-66 victory to open conference play. Freshmen point guard Dominic Artis has also played quite beyond his years leading the Ducks with 3.6 assists per game.

The Ducks have a balanced roster, featuring a strong 10-man rotation with all five starters scoring in double figures. Dana Altman has a bevy of depth down low led by senior Tony Woods, who is averaging 1.3 blocks per game and leads the Pac-12 in shooting percentage.

Senior forward E.J. Singler, brother of Duke star Kyle Singler, has been the inspirational leader of this team. Developing as a passer and rebounder in a new team-oriented mentality  has resulted in a better product on the court for Singler and his team.

In a nice reuinon of sorts, Rice transfers Omar Oraby and Arslan Kazemi will square on the court for the first time in their NCAA careers. Last season with the Owls, Kazemi averaged 12 points in 29 minutes of action while Oraby averaged six points coming off the bench for most of the season.

On the other side of the court, the USC Trojans have gone through quite the transformation this week and look to implement life into their play. When asked at his opening press conference as head coach, Bob Cantu wanted to make immediate changes to the Trojans attack.

“I want to play a little faster and I want to press a little bit,” he said. “[I want to] try to create easy baskets. I think a lot of times you sit and try to grind out in a half court and it’s difficult to score. We’re going to make adjustments to one of our basic offenses and get the ball rolling.”

Expect Ari Stewart and Renaldo Wooldridge, talented recruits who sat in Kevin O’Neill’s dog house for most of the season, to receive more playing time moving forward. In a game that should be full of emotion, the starting lineup will need to play inspired basketball to keep their heralded spots in the rotation.

The Trojans are in dire need of an increased tempo, averaging only 63 points per game which ranks second worst in the Pac-12. In a classic fire under the keister game, the offense will attempt to score 60-plus points for the sixth straight game, but will probably need 70-plus to keep up with the high-powered Oregon Ducks.

Projected Starting Lineups