For the second time this season, Andy Enfield’s USC basketball team has lost two in a row, with the Trojans getting beat 85-70 by Oregon State.
The lowdown: The Trojans played a strong opening 20 minutes, as evidenced by taking a 40-36 lead into halftime. Nine different players had points in the first half, and while USC limited mistakes to just five turnovers and four missed free throws.
It was a much different story in the second half, as the Trojans shot 26.9 percent from the field, turned the ball over nine times and led for just 49 seconds despite a four-point halftime lead.
Everything dried up and the Beavers took full advantage, led by the backcourt tandem of Gary Payton II and Tres Tinkle. The pair combined for 26 points in the second half, going 11 of 16 from the field, and helping Oregon State outscore USC 49-30 in the game’s final 20 minutes.
With five minutes to play, the Trojans made a brief game of it with an 8-0 run over 83 seconds to pull within six, 72-66. But the Beavers would respond with eight-straight points of their own, a run that would ultimately be the dagger.
After an excellent start to conference play that saw USC earn an AP ranking for the first time since 2008, the Trojans now find themselves with a 4-3 Pac-12 record following a disastrous trip to the Oregon schools.
The takeaway: A big part of USC’s resurgence in 2016 has been their efficiency on the offensive end, including an uptick in three-point shooting.
Paolo Uggetti of Neon Tommy wrote about it extensively this week, saying that “the Trojans are making three-pointers more a focus of their attack, rather than a mere complement like last year.”
That’s a coup for Enfield’s squad when they’re going in. However, Sunday afternoon proved how emphasizing three-point shots can backfire when they’re missed. USC was just 6 of 24 from three-point range against Oregon State, good for an anemic 25 percent shooting percentage.
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Player of the game: Oregon State’s Gary Payton II had a monster game for the Beavers, nearly finishing with a triple double. He had 22 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists.
Stat of the game: After shooting 12 of 16 on free throws in the first half, along with a 39.4 field goal percentage, USC’s shots dried up in the second half. They were 12 for 22 on free throws and made just 4 of 15 three-point shots.
Next on tap: The Trojans return home to for a three-game homestand against teams they’ve already played this season. It starts on Thursday night against Washington State at Galen Center. USC beat the Cougars 90-77 in the Pac-12 opener on New Year’s Day.