USC basketball was brought back to earth Thursday night, losing 89-81 in Eugene as the Oregon Ducks proved too hot to handle.
The lowdown: The Trojans started out quickly, but cooling shooting and Oregon’s own hot-streak created a back-and-forth affair.
Despite the occasional half court trap from the Ducks, play moved at USC’s preferred tempo though Elijah Stewart’s early scoring was matched by Oregon’s own shooters.
Benny Boatwright’s contributions in the middle of the first period summed up the effort. He nailed a pull up three from the top of the arch to put USC up five, followed that with a deep miss and then a charge, allowing the Ducks to take the lead on a Bouche dunk. USC reclaimed the advantage on the freshman’s jumper, but he followed that with a turnover.
Oregon punished USC under the basket on a 10-2 scoring run before a Casey Benson three-pointer gave the Ducks a six-point lead. The Trojans wasted no time answering with a Jordan McLaughlin corner three and two fast break finishes off steals.
Leading into halftime, Dwayne Benjamin hit a pair of three pointers as the Ducks ripped off another run, this time 10-0, extending their lead as far as nine points. They enjoyed a 46-41 lead at the half.
The second half began with the Boatwright show, as he accounted for seven of the Trojans first ten points. Dillon Brooks matched him with five points of his own for Oregon.
The Ducks took advantage of a series of Trojans mistakes near the midway point of the half, taking a nine-point lead as Stewart and Reinhardt lost turnovers while Chimezie Metu committed an offensive foul and goal tend. Oregon extended that lead to 13 on Elgin Cook’s three.
USC’s woes in the half were never more on display when Nikola Jovanovic missed a dunk as the rebound of the rim on his release popped the ball back up into the air.
As Boatwright logged his first double-double of the season, the Trojans dragged the deficit back down to one-digit.
Jacobs threw the ball over his head after being called for a travel as the clock ticked below two minutes, resulting in a technical for the Trojan guard. Even though Oregon missed both shots, Boatwright fouled out on the ensuing possession and Jacobs air balled a three as USC’s hopes of pulling off the comeback were dashed.
The takeaway: The pace of the game was exactly what USC would have wanted, but the Trojans 26% three-point shooting could not match the hot hands in the Duck ranks.
Despite contributions from Boatwright and Jacobs, USC did not get enough help from a third or fourth scorer — whether that be Stewart, Jordan McLaughlin or Katin Reinhardt who combined to go 4-of-17 from distance.
On the other side of things, Oregon had four players in double-digits, led by Cook who topped all scorers with 26 points.
This marks the Ducks’ 11th straight victory over USC going back to 2009 and sets the Trojans back after achieving their first ranking in the AP Top 25 since 2008.
The Trojans are now 15-4, with a 4-2 mark in conference play.
Player of the game: Bennie Boatwright; 23 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists. First career double-double.
Stat of the game: Oregon had 41 points in the paint to USC’s 28.
Next on tap: The road trip continues in Corvallis against Oregon State on Sunday, January 24th.