USC is not a trap game. The Ducks are smarter than that. The Trojans have a lot to play for tonight, what with their coach out the door and their record slowly improving (7,10, 2-2).
“We are taking this game just as seriously as UCLA,” EJ Singer said Tuesday before practice.
And if the Ducks are really smart, they will match the Trojans minute by minute in emotion and intensity.
Even if the Ducks run away with this one and continue to score upwards of 70 points, it will be fun to watch former Rice Owl team mates Arsalan Kazemi and Omar Oraby square off for the first time in their NCAA careers. Kazemi said Tuesday, “It's not really going to be weird. We were competitive in practice. I used to dunk on him all the time.”
USC is coming off a confidence-boosting win over Utah 76-59 Saturday at Utah, led by junior Dewayne Dedmon (one of two 7 foot Trojans), with 13 points, 13 rebounds (team season high) and five blocks. (He currently accounts for 33% of team’s rebounds.) Sophomore Byron Wesley also made contributions, with 13 points, four assists and six rebounds.
Outside the arc, the Ducks need to be all over JT Terrell, whose 3-pointers lead the team and place him 7th in the conference.
Eric Wise is the team's leading scorer, and while interim Coach Bob Cantu plans to keep it that way, he also wants to mix things up a little. "We want to play a little faster. Maybe press a little more. Try and find ways to get Omar (Oraby) and Dewayne (Dedmon) out there together," he said in Monday's press conference.
The Ducks should prepare for anything. This is not the time to rest on reputation.
Official Game Notes:
NO. 21 DUCKS TRAVEL TO LOS ANGELES FOR GAMES AT USC, No. 24 UCLA
The 21st-ranked Oregon men’s basketball team hits the road for just the fourth and fifth time this season to take on conference rivals USC and 24th-ranked UCLA. Thursday’s tip-time at USC is scheduled for 8 p.m.; the game will be televised on ESPNU. On Saturday, the Ducks play UCLA at Pauley Pavilion on CBS at 1 p.m.
Oregon is 14-2 overall and a perfect 3-0 in the Pac-12 conference.
The Ducks have won five straight games and 9 of 10 overall. Meanwhile, USC enters the week 7-10 overall (2-2 Pac-12) and UCLA leads the Pac-12 with a 4-0 record. The Bruins are 14-3 overall and have won nine consecutive games, including seven in a row at Pauley Pavilion.
CLUTCH FREE THROWS TAKE DOWN SUN DEVILS
Oregon extended its winning streak to three games over Arizona State on Sunday night thanks in large part to its performance at the charity stripe. The Ducks made 7 of 8 free throws down the stretch and shot 14-of-15 (93.3 percent) from the line for the night. UO’s free throw shooting performance was its best since converting all 11 free throw attempts in an 86-83 loss at California on Feb. 16, 2012.
DUCKS OVERCOME POOR SHOOTING NIGHT AT HOME
UO overcame its second-worst shooting percentage at home this season to beat Arizona State on Sunday night. The Ducks shot just 24-of-59 (40.7 percent) from the field; they only put up a lower number at home on Dec. 31 against Nevada when they shot at a 39.5 percent clip. Oregon’s victory over the Sun Devils marked the first time it beat an opponent when shooting a lower percentage than the opposition (ASU shot 47.3 percent from the field). The Ducks are a perfect 13-0 when shooting better than their opponent.
HEATING UP FROM BEHIND THE ARC
After shooting a combined 9-of-34 (26.5 percent) from three-point range against Nevada (Dec. 31) and Oregon State (Jan. 6), the Ducks have found their groove from behind the arc. Oregon shot 13- of-22 (59.1 percent) from three-point land in its wins over Arizona and Arizona State, its best two- game stretch of the season. In fact, the Ducks have shot over 50 percent from deep just one other time this season, hitting nine of their 16 attempts (56.3 percent) in a Dec. 22 win over Houston Baptist. Oregon was 7-of-11 against Arizona and 6-of-11 versus Arizona State.