Eugene, OR – USC used a 14-5 run in the last five minutes to storm past Oregon 75-70 at Matthew Knight Arena tonight in front of a crowd of 9,202.. The Trojans snapped a 14-game losing streak against the Ducks. 6-11 Chimezie Metu and 6-10 Bennie Boatwright led the Trojans with 18 points each. Point guard Jordan McLaughlin scored USC’s last six points at the free throw line and finished with 11 points, and team-highs of nine rebounds and seven assists. Payton Pritchard led Oregon with 18 points and seven assists.
Oregon took their last lead at 68-66 with three minutes to play on a three-pointer by Elijah Brown. However, Oregon did not execute on offense down the stretch. Troy Brown missed a mid-range jumper. Pritchard was off on a drive and a three-pointer which would have tied the score at 73. Paul White committed a turnover on a bad pass and had a three-pointer go in and out, MiKyle McIntosh (11 points, 10 rebounds) slipped on a drive which could have given the Ducks a one-point lead with 40 seconds remaining.
On defense things weren’t any better for Oregon as they couldn’t defend Metu inside or Boatwright outside. Boatwright made 4-of-7 three-pointers while Metu did all of his work inside. USC had a 36-26 advantage on the boards including a 13-4 edge on the offensive boards. The offensive board advantage resulted in nine second-chance points. Metu drew fouls inside as White and McIntosh both finished the evening with four fouls. The ability to defend big, athletic players inside is an issue for this Oregon team. The 6-7 McIntosh is strong and provides effort but is undersized inside. 6-9 freshman Kenny Wooten is the team’s best rim protector but he gets out of position at times and reaches which gets him into foul trouble. The 6-9 White is thin and not a good interior defender, and would not be playing much inside on a team with bigger bodies.
In this game the teams shot relatively evenly with USC connecting on 44 percent of their attempts and Oregon at 48 percent. From distance USC was 7-of-20 (35 percent) while Oregon was 7-of-23 (30 percent). The difference in the game was USC’s rebounding advantage. USC received nice play off the bench from Jonah Matthews who hit two three-pointers and scored 11 points. White scored 14 points for Oregon including 10 consecutive points that helped the Ducks erase a ten-point first-half USC lead.
Metu has NBA talent. At 6-11 he has a nice mid-range game and is very athletic and long with shot-blocking ability. He’s a good rebounder averaging over seven per game. Boatwright is a stretch-4 with NBA range. He doesn’t have much lift nor elite athleticism but he knows how to use his body and length and also averages over seven rebounds per game.
Oregon will try to regroup as they will face UCLA on Saturday night. The Ducks have fallen to 2-4 in the conference and can’t afford to lose any more home games. UCLA will come to town after losing to Oregon State n Corvallis tonight. The game is sold out.
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