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Oregon State Basketball: USC Trojans Preview (Game 20)

Gut-check time for the Beavers against USC.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 18 Stanford at USC Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

USC Trojans (15-4, 4-2)

  • Head Coach: Andy Enfield (7th Season)
  • Top Performer: Onyeka Okongwu (17.2 PPG, 9.0 RPG)
  • Points For: 73.8 PPG (128th)
  • Points Against: 68.1 PPG (151st)
  • Last Game/Streak: 79-70 2OT Loss at Oregon (1L)

The Skinny

Coming off back-to-back overtime games, which included a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of Oregon, USC might be a bit fatigued, a bit overloaded and possibly a bit disinterested. At least, that’s what Oregon State will be hoping when the Trojans visit Corvallis on Saturday, as the room for error in the Beavers season has nearly all but run out.

Despite Andy Enfield’s name always being synonymous with the run-and-gun nature of his days at Florida Gulf Coast, under the seventh year head man, USC has regularly been anchored by strong front-court pieces. In 2020, that hasn’t changed one bit, with a trio of forwards in Onyeka Okongwu (17.2 PPG), Nick Rakocevic (11.0 PPG) and Isaiah Mobley (7.5 PPG) paving the way.

Okongwu, featured in our Player To Watch, is hands down one of the league’s most exciting talents, who as a freshman is a near double-double machine who leads the Trojans in scoring and rebounding nightly. Rakocevic, the team’s savvy veteran, isn’t too far behind with his own 8.5 rebounds per contest rate, while Mobley seems to be the same type of producer as his two frontcourt mates, who may be just a year or so behind. For a Beavers group that doesn’t stretch too far beyond Tres Tinkle and Kylor Kelley up-front, that’s as daunting of an interior grouping as they can be matched-up against.

While USC’s bigs always hold the headlines, the wealth of guard and wing talent on this team is what I truly believe will decide if they’re a second weekend team in the NCAA Tournament or not. Senior Jonah Mathews (12.8 PPG) is playing well in an expanded role. Sophomore Elijah Weaver (6.8 PPG) is a steady developer. Akron transfer Daniel Utomi (6.7 PPG) has scored in double-figures in three of his last four games. And the duo of rookie Ethan Anderson (5.4 PPG), a former Oregon State target who leads the roster with a 4.8 assists per game mark, and Quinton Adlesh (2.4 PPG), a Columbia transfer, piece together a strong group.

Overall, I would love to go in-depth about USC and Oregon State and the individual match-ups and all that, but there’s simply no time for that. At the turn of the year, the Beavers were still a team likely headed to the big dance and now, they’re on a three-game losing skid and treading water by the moment. In a crucial home, conference tilt, Oregon State simply has to come to play, regardless of the opponent.

Player To Watch

NCAA Basketball: Stanford at Southern California Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Onyeka Okongwu (Forward - Freshman)

The Trojans have played fifteen extra minutes of basketball with their past two games, partaking in overtime periods against both Stanford and Oregon. While usually, forwards struggle on those occasions, the reliable and poised presence of Okongwu to just keep producing in those moments was stunning. In those two games, the 6’ 9” newcomer averaged 22.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 5 blocks. Not bad.

Game Info

  • Date: Saturday, January 25th
  • Time: 2:00 PM PT
  • Location: Gill Coliseum (Corvallis, OR)
  • Coverage: Pac-12 Network