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Know The Enemy: USC

Oregon State is nearing the all-time program futility mark. Can a road trip to USC change their fortunes?

NCAA Basketball: Southern California at Oregon Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

USC Trojans (20-4)

  • Latest BTD Pac-12 Power Rankings: 6th Overall (7-4)
  • Head Coach: Andy Enfield (4th Season)
  • Top Performer: Chimezie Metu (14.3 PPG, 7.5 RPG)
  • Points For: 78.9 PPG (T-61st)
  • Points Against: 71.8 PPG (T-168th)
  • Last Game/Streak: 86-77 Win at Washington State (4W)

The Skinny

Oregon State is on the verge of history.

Sitting at 4-20 overall and 0-11 in the Pac-12, the Beavers are nearing the all-time futility mark for the potentially being the program’s worst-team ever, a devastating reality for a team who’s 2016-2017 season campaign began on such a promising note. However, head coach Wayne Tinkle and company will be hoping to alter their fate when they travel to both USC and UCLA in this upcoming week, the first two games of just seven match-ups left on Oregon State’s regular season slate. It seems like it’s time to ask the same old question once again, will this be the week the Beavers finally find that in-conference breakthrough?

The early consensus would be that the Beavers are meeting the Trojans at a bad time, as USC is currently a surging team on a four-game win streak, which included knocking off rival UCLA in an impressive and crucial in-conference game. That idea is only magnified by the fact that forward Chimezie Metu (14.3 PPG), once the Trojans third option offensively, is now anchoring USC’s front-court and coming off a 29 point, 8 rebound outing against Washington State. That’s not a good sign for a Beavers team who has been susceptible to allowing star players to have standout performances.

Metu is not the only Trojan that Oregon State will have to keep their eyes on, as forward Bennie Boatwright (12.9 PPG) has returned to the mix for USC, to only add more firepower behind key pieces in Elijah Stewart (13.7 PPG), Jordan McLaughlin (13.5 PPG) and De’Anthony Melton (9.5 PPG). On any night given night, USC has about six-seven players capable to hitting the twenty-point plateau, especially in what has become a bit more of a free-flowing offense under former “Dunk City” head coach, Andy Enfield.

For the Beavers to find their way past USC, Oregon State will have to continue their run of solid first halves and now begin to piece together the last twenty minutes of the game, which could be aided by a more balanced offensive attack. While the Beavers goal should be to keep the Trojans somewhere in the “sixties” offensively, Oregon State’s goal should be to have four players score in double-figures, which will help not transform their offense into a two-headed machine. Even with all that being said, the task ahead still remains monumental. Remember now, Oregon State is on the verge of making history. One way or another.

Players To Watch

Bennie Boatwright (Sophomore - Forward)

Having recently returned from a knee injury, the thought was that Boatwright would take some time to find his form again as a high-impact player for the Trojans. In just his first two games back, it’s as if Boatwright never missed a beat. The sophomore forward posted a combined 36 points on 12-20 shooting in efforts against Washington and Washington State, while also adding in 9 rebounds and 7 assists.

Chimezie Metu (Sophomore - Forward)

Metu snagged his spot on BTD’s Mid-Season Pac-12 Basketball Awards list as the conference’s “Most Improved Player” and the accolade seems more and more deserved by the day, as Metu just continues to flourish in the Trojans front-court. He’s improved his scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage in his second season in the City of Angels and even with Boatwright’s return, he remains one of the team’s most crucial players.

Shaqquan Aaron (Sophomore - Guard)

Aaron may not be the consistent contributor that Elijah Stewart, Jordan McLaughlin or De’Anthony Melton is for USC but he stands right alongside all those talents in terms of his electric potential on any given night. In the Trojan’s colossal win over UCLA, Aaron pitched in 23 points, including four three-pointers, on a 6-12 performance from the field. Aaron is always a lurking threat for a prime-time performance.

Game Info

Date: Thursday, February 9th
Time: 8:00 PM PT
Location: Galen Center (Los Angeles, CA)
Coverage: Pac-12 Network