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Open Thread: USC at Oregon State

The Trojans are in the house this afternoon for Oregon State's second conference game. In football, we beat the Trojans 27-21 at Reser Stadium. Just sayin'.

Pregame: The Trojans aren't getting the same kind of publicity that other Pac-10 teams like UCLA, Stanford, and Arizona State are getting right now. But they're just as good. USC made a statement earlier in the week at Mac Court, where they trombled the Ducks in the second half after only leading by one at halftime. They went on to win by a margin of 21... read more about that game, and more about the Trojans, in my game preview.

USC has an extremely large game looming on the horizon next week against crosstown rival UCLA, but there's still some work to do in Corvallis. Quickly, here my keys to the game:

  1. Get into the Offense: This will probably be a key for most of the season, until we can get proficient at running CR's Princeston offense. A problem area in the UCLA game was that the Beavers were putting up quick shots early in the game, which led to fast breaks for UCLA. USC likes to get up and down the court, so giving the Trojans what they want would not be a good thing.
  2. Control the Boards: Quite frankly, if we want to win a Pac-10 game, we can't allow other teams easy access to the offensive boards. UCLA out-offensive rebounded the Beavers 12-4, which gave them easy second chance points USC has some size, and junior Taj Gibson is a rebounding machine.
  3. Find Consistency on Defense: The Beavers' zone approach didn't hold up well against UCLA, who made six three-pointers in the first half of Friday's game. The Trojans aren't as good of a long-range shooting team, and I don't think they have a guy like Michael Roll who can shoot the deep ball with such consistency. If we can play defense against the Trojans like we did in the first five minutes against UCLA, we'll be a lot better off.
Halftime: Oregon State got off to a quick start, hitting their first three baskets. They took a 12-2 lead at one point in the first half, but USC came charging back behind big men Marcus Johnson at Taj Gibson. For the Beavers, Roeland Schaftenaar is having as good of a game as I can remember him having... he has 11 points, five rebounds, 2 assists, a steal, and a block at the half. USC went on another run at the end of the half, and they're now up by five at the break. But the halftime score isn't the best indication of how the first half went... it was a big improvement from the first half Friday against UCLA, to say the least. At halftime, it's USC 25, OSU 20.

--Jake (