USC basketball broke out of their slump to blowout Oregon State at the Galen Center, 81-70, ending a three-game slide with sharp shooting and renewed efforts on defense.
The lowdown: Oregon State began the game by hitting four consecutive three-point attempts, but the Trojans withstood the early flurry and rode a 15-0 run to take a commanding lead in the first half.
As Gary Payton Jr. limped off the floor with an injury, USC’s hot shooting vaulted the Trojans ahead.
Bennie Boatwright and Jordan McLaughlin showed off improved scoring touch, hitting two threes each early on. In fact the Trojans shot 8-for-11 from distance in the opening half, blitzing the Beavers en route to a 56-33 halftime lead.
To start the second half, the Beavers trimmed USC’s lead with the Trojans’ heat cooling off. However, timely threes from Katin Reinhardt and McLaughlin stemmed the tide.
Though Oregon State came within 11 points with under two minutes remaining, USC’s lead was too great to overcome and the Trojans finished off the 81-70 victory.
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The takeaway: After losing five of six, including their last four on the road, the Trojans desperately needed a good performance to get the season back on track before the conference tournament.
To do that against Payton and the Ducks, USC would need to tighten up on defense and get their shooting going. They did just that.
After struggling to contribute on the scoring end against Cal, Boatwright, McLaughlin and Reinhardt each tallied double-digit point games.
With the win, the Trojans marked their first 20-win season since 2009.
Player of the game: Jordan McLaughlin; 17 points, 3 rebounds, 9 assists
Stat of the game: USC logged 21 total assists, including 15 combined between McLaughlin and Julian Jacobs.
Next on tap: USC’s regular season ends Saturday, March 5 at the Galen Center against Oregon.