Ducks Are a USC Hoops Roadblock Too

Adam Grosbard (OC Register)  —  LOS ANGELES — Its three-game winning streak has the USC men’s basketball team tied atop the Pac-12 standings at 4-1 in conference play. How long this partial reign lasts depends on how USC responds to its greatest test this season.

The Trojans (15-3) start their road trip to the Beaver State on Thursday, facing No. 12 Oregon before heading to Oregon State on Saturday.

USC has played several good teams during its 15-3 start, but none quite so talented as the Ducks (15-4, 4-2 in Pac-12 play).

“It’s huge,” USC guard Jonah Mathews said of the game. “Not in the aspect of them being ranked, but us keeping our first place, us getting the tiebreaker with them if we win. We don’t play them twice. Even for our net worth status, it’s a big game for us overall in many aspects.”

The Oregon backcourt rolls deep, but is led by senior Payton Pritchard, the leading candidate for Pac-12 player of the year. He’s surrounded by a trio of guards – Chris Duarte, Will Richardson and Anthony Mathis – who all shoot about 35% from 3-point range.

The Ducks have talent in the paint, too. Freshman center N’Faly Dante was a five-star prospect in high school, and senior forward Shakur Juiston is a reliable presence on both ends of the court.

But Pritchard is the straw that stirs the drink. He leads Oregon in scoring (19.5 points per game), assists (5.7) and steals (1.8). In the Ducks’ last game, he hit a long 3-pointer with 3.4 seconds left in overtime to beat Washington 64-61.

“He makes exceptionally tough shots from deep,” USC head coach Andy Enfield said. “So we just have to have a body on him. Ethan [Anderson] will have his chance. Jonah, everybody else. All our guards have to be ready. Even our bigs will be on him at times. We have to have a good team defensive game against Oregon, especially on their home court.”

The Ducks have not lost at home this season, their closest call being a pair of one-point overtime wins over Michigan and Arizona. But USC has been good away from the Galen Center, too, going 4-1 in true road games.

Keeping that record intact in Eugene and Corvallis, both notoriously tough road trips in the Pac-12, will be a challenge. If the Trojans do, their status atop the conference standings will have to be taken a little more seriously.

NOTABLE

Guard Drake London is not expected to travel with the team on the Oregon road trip as he continues to deal with a viral infection that has kept him away from the bench the past two games.

USC at Oregon

When: 8 p.m. Thursday

Where: Matthew Knight Arena, Eugene, Ore.

TV/Radio: ESPNU/AM 790

ocregister.com

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RialtoTrojan
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Noble Member

Drake London is a real warrior (excuse the Helton expression) He plays both Football and Basketball. I hope he recovers soon. The only question is what his goal is leaving college? If he is NBA material he’s gone quicker, but if the NFL is calling, then we have him for a while longer.
Either sport, he’s fun to watch.

Paul_Muad_dib
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Diamond Member

Easy there… They’re all “real warriors”. You’d know if you studied the film.

Jamaica
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Jamaica
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Helton puts his hand over his eyes when watching gamefilm blocking out what he doesn’t care to see. Then tells reporters the team was (flip a coin) this many plays away from winning the game. Helton uses that line more than any other coach in the history of football.