Oregon Ducks claim first Pac-12 win with 81-60 victory over USC
EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon’s defensive benchmark for success is to hold its opponent to fewer than 70 points.
It also doesn’t hurt when the Ducks produce their most efficient offensive game of the season, either.
Paul White and Louis King each scored 19 points as Oregon raced past Southern California 81-60 on Sunday night.
The Ducks scored on 35 of 62 possessions and shot 29 of 52 (55.8 percent), only the third time in 16 games they’ve made more than half their shots and the first in eight games.
“It was the first time in a long time that we shot the ball really well, and I thought our ball movement was a little better and we did a better job of making plays for each other,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “Paul and Lou were really good. They hit shots, made plays and both of them played hard, as well.”
Will Richardson had 11 points and Victor Bailey Jr. 10 for the Ducks (10-6, 1-2 Pac-12), the preseason conference favorite, who were coming off a wrenching 87-84 overtime loss to UCLA after leading by nine in the final minute.
White said Altman came into Friday’s practice “spewing out all different kinds of quotes, but the message of it was that things happen and you’ve got to move on.
“One of the things he was driving home to us was that NBA guys have to deal with this all the time,” White said. “At the end of the day, I’m proud of my team and way that we responded.”
This time Oregon took a more deliberate approach by working the shot clock, crashing the boards and hitting 13 of 24 from 3-point range. The Ducks never trailed and led by as many as 26 points in the second half to snap a three-game losing streak against USC.
Oregon had a 35-24 rebounding edge, led by King’s eight, and had 17 second-chance points
Jonah Mathews led the Trojans (9-8, 2-2) with 15 points. Bennie Boatwrighthad 13 and Nick Rakocevic 11.
USC was coming off its own overtime loss at Oregon State three days earlier, leaving both teams in need of a bounce-back win.
The Ducks shot 16 of 25 in the second half, including 7 of 11 from 3-point range. White, King and Payton Pritchard finished with three 3s each as Oregon had seven players connect from the arc.
“We were really impressed with Oregon tonight,” USC coach Andy Enfield said, “because they were 0-2 in the league and like us had a tough loss the other night. It seemed like they couldn’t miss for a 10-minute stretch in the second half and then put the game away.”
USC played without freshman Kevin Porter Jr. after the 6-foot-6 freshman from Seattle was suspended by Enfield for “personal conduct issues,” according to a USC pregame tweet. Porter had played in seven games with three starts.
Enfield confirmed after the game that Porter’s suspension was indefinite.
“It’s very disappointing,” Enfield said. “We need all our players to be healthy and to be available. We have a short roster as it is, so the last thing you want to do as a head coach is suspend any of your players, but when there’s conduct issues, we have no choice.”
King and White carried the Ducks to a 36-28 halftime lead with 14 points each. Oregon consistently ran the shot clock down to single digits on nearly every possession didn’t have a fast-break point in the first 20 minutes, cashing in mostly on offensive rebounds and six 3-pointers.
After missing 10 of their first 13 shots, the Trojans closed the half with seven consecutive points after trailing by 15. Boatwright and Mathews had 10 points apiece at the break.
USC seemed to show the effects of its overtime loss to Oregon State on Thursday night with a lethargic start and never recovered. The Trojans now have six days to prepare for their first showdown with UCLA.
Oregon put together what may have been its best performance of the season to avoid dropping its opening three conference games since coach Dana Altman’s first season in Eugene. King again led the Ducks in scoring and just missed his third double-double to begin Pac-12 play.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Pritchard, now Oregon’s leading scorer (11.7 points per game) with freshman star Bol Bol lost for the season to foot surgery, inched closer to the 1,000-point career mark with nine to give him 998 in 91 games. King, with 58 points in his first three Pac-12 games, is averaging 11.0 and White 10.4.
With 4 minutes left in the first half, King soared over two USC rebounders for a two-handed putback of an Oregon 3-point try, then 30 seconds later the 6-foot-9 freshman hit his own 3 for a 33-21 lead.
HE SAID IT
It was USC’s worst loss since a 35-point blowout against TCU in early December. “This is the first time defensively we didn’t do what we need to do to have a chance to win,” Enfield said. “Offensively, we missed a lot of open shots and we weren’t clicking like we have been in the past month.”
USC: Hosts UCLA on Saturday.
Oregon: At Arizona on Thursday night.