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USC at Oregon St. Game Thread and Pac-12 Saturday Update

Last year, Jared Cunningham was Oregon St.'s leading scorer in both games against USC. If he can he be the Trojans' biggest headache again, the Beavers have an excellent chance to get the win. <em>(Photo by Andy Wooldridge)</em>
Last year, Jared Cunningham was Oregon St.'s leading scorer in both games against USC. If he can he be the Trojans' biggest headache again, the Beavers have an excellent chance to get the win. (Photo by Andy Wooldridge)

USC (5-14, 0-6) at Oregon St. (12-7, 2-5) at Gill Coliseum 7:30 PM PST / ROOT Sports NW / KEJO 1240 AM / KPAM 860 AM (Streamed)

Oregon St. wraps up the weekend's Pac-12 action by hosting USC this evening, in a regionally televised contest covered by ROOT Sports Northwest. Both teams are coming off close, 3 point contests, which had very different impacts on the teams' moods.

The Trojans dropped a 65-62 decision to Oregon Thursday night in the Matthew Knight Arena. The Ducks led early, and the entire second half, but USC was in the game all the way. However, getting behind, getting out-rebounded, and getting badly out-shot on 3 pointers meant also getting beat at the line. Oregon made 19 of 24 free throws, including all 6 in the last 1:40 of the game, while USC only got to the line 12 times, so the fact that the Trojans made 10 of them was rendered irrelevant.

The only Trojan that can be said to have had a good game was 7'0" sophomore Dewayne Dedmon, who made 7 of 10 shots, and 4 of 5 free throws, for 18 points. Dedmon also grabbed a game high 7 rebounds.

Maurice Jones led everyone, with 22 points for USC. But Jones shot only 39%, making just 9 of 23 shots, and he was only 2 of 8 on 3 pointers. That was still better than the rest of the Trojans, who missed all 5 three pointers they took as a group.

The Trojans also never figured out how to handle Oregon guard Garrett Sim, who made 5 of 7 shots, including 4 of 6 three pointers, and also all 6 of his free throws, for 20 points.

The Beavers broke a 13 game losing streak against UCLA Thursday night, beating the Bruins 87-84 in Gill Coliseum. Jared Cunningham garnered some more somewhat begrudged recognition from the Bruins with his 16 point second half, which carried him to a game high 21 points, and Oregon St. to their first win over UCLA in 7 years, after 13 consecutive losses.

Devon Collier, who was preparing to celebrate his birthday on the off day between this weekend's games, warmed up for the fun with a 20 point effort that carried the Beavers offensively in the first half.

UCLA shot 58% in both halves, and for the game, and from 3 point range, and still lost. It happened because the Beavers also shot 58%, though not as effectively or aggressively from 3 point range, and were able to get the Bruins behind the clock and foul 8 ball. UCLA ran out of free throws with over 11 minutes to go, and had to foul to stop the clock. Oregon St. responded by 25 of 3 free throws, and 20 of 24 in the second half. 8 straight made free throws, and 10 of 12, came in the last 1:12 of the game to close out the win.

Cunningham was 10 of 12 at the line, and Roberto Nelson made 5 of 6.

Last year, Oregon St. and USC split a pair of games, with home court advantage prevailing. The Beavers beat the Trojans 80-76 at Gill, behind a then career best 24 points by Cunningham, but USC took the rematch in the Galen Center 67-56, behind a 17 point performance by Nikola Vucevic.

This year, the new Pac-12 schedule rotation makes this week's games the only meeting of the regular season between the LA and Oregon schools.

Payton Place

Tonight, Gary Payton makes his first trip back to Corvallis in years to see the Beavers. If coach Craig Robinson accomplishes nothing else, he's brought many of the greatest Beavers ever back to Gill Coliseum, after some prior failed leaderships of the program managed to make them feel disconnected from the team. Something that never should have happened.

Trojans Are Inoffensive

That's something rarely said about the boys from the place most refer to as U$C, but it's true about coach Kevin O'Neil's punchless soldiers. The Trojans are ranked 341st in the country in scoring, and 316th in shooting percentage. They essentially don't rebound either, and are currently 342nd in the country (and falling) on the boards.

The 62 points they scored against Oregon was the Trojans' best offensive outing since a 63-60 win over South Carolina way back in November. Their 66-59 win over Cal State Northridge way back on Veterans Day in their opener was USC's best offensive game of the year.

As a result, the Trojans are not only winless in the Pac-12, they have lost 7 in a row, and 10 of 11 dating back to the beginning of December.

Even if Oregon St.'s perimeter defensive struggles re-emerge, the Beavers, who not only lead the Pac-12 in scoring, and are 6th in the country, averaging almost 29 points more per game than USC, should still easily out-distance the Trojans, and earn coach Craig Robinson his first sweep of the LA schools.

Chat On!

It's more fun than the Trojan's approach of "Fight On!", at least until football season starts. But that's a subject for another day.

With Washington St. having upset Conference leading California 77-75 this afternoon to tighten up the Pac-12 race, this really becomes an absolute must win game for Oregon St. The Beavers will still be in 9th. place even if they win, but will pull within 3 games of first place with a win.

Coupled with the Cougar's win, Oregon pulled into a tie for first place in the Pac-12 with a 75-68 win over UCLA. The Ducks erased a 13 point halftime deficit, and outscored the Bruins by 20 points after the break. EJ Singler had a career high 26 points, including 8 of the 10 straight free throws Oregon sank in in the last minute of the game. Overall, Singler was 16 of 17 at the line, and Oregon made 28 of 32 free throws as a team. Oregon is now 10-0 in games the Ducks have been involved in that have been decided by single digit margins.

The Beavers visit the Ducks next Sunday afternoon.

Washington whipped Stanford 76-63, pulling into a 3 way tie for third, one half game back, along with Colorado, after the Buffs beat Arizona 64-63 in Boulder, on a 3 pointer by Carlon Brown with 1:19 left in the game. That's not a typo; neither the 'Cats nor Colorado scored after that. Despite shooting just 15% for the game on 3 pointers, Arizona spent 30 seconds at the end of the game getting a 3 point shot at the buzzer when they only needed 2 points to force overtime.

The Huskies' win got coach Lorenzo Romar his 300th coaching win, and 100th Pac-10/12 victory. The Cardinal lost by double digits on both stops on their tour of snowy Washington St., having lost 81-69 Thursday in Pullman.

Washington put the game away with a 19-2 run midway in the second half. Stanford shot < 36% for the game, which was actually up dramatically from the 19% they shot in the first 17 minutes of the game.

Here's the place to discuss Oregon St.'s resurgence against UCLA, assess how well its carrying over against USC, and analyze the day's action in the Pac-12.