5:30 PM :: Matthew Knight Arena
TV: Comcast Sportsnet Northwest
Our roundball warriors return from their sweep in the desert to Matthew Knight Arena to take on the Trojans of Southern California. USC stands at 5-13, and the only winless team in the conference. USC is is about as one dimensional as a team can get. Defensively, they are elite. They rank 31st in the nation in defensive efficiency, giving up only 94 points per 100 possessions. They are sixth in the country in opponents' turnover percentage, at over 26%. They have height. They will play an in-your-face man to man defense and pressure you. They haven't gi ven up more than 66 points all season.
The problem with SC is that they just cannot score. At all. They rank 299th in offensive efficiency. 322nd in effective field goal percentage. 303rd in three point percentage. 277th in getting to the foul line, and when they do get there, they rank 335th in percentage. I've never seen a team throw up so many bricks, and USC has built entire subdivisions at this point. They may be the worst shooting team in Pac-10 history.
5'7" guard Maurice Jones is the Trojans' leading scorer at 14.2 ppg, but he does so on only 34% shooting. He actually shoots better from the three point line, so while I would expect Oregon to play mostly zone against such a poor shooting team, Jones is the one guy they really need to make sure to get out on. 6'6" post Aaron Fuller is their most efficient player, getting his 10.6 points on 51% shooting, but he has no range whatsoever, and I would think that an Ashaolu/Nared combination would be pretty effective defensively at limiting his offense. Nobody else on the roster scares you from a scoring standpoint: DeWayne Dedmon is a seven footer averaging seven points and a high FG%, but doesn't have any games where he's put up more than ten or eleven points. And everyone else shoot abysmally: G Byron Wesley (37%), G Alexis Moore (31%), F Garrett Jackson (41% for a forward), and guard Greg Allen (31%) round out their rotation. Oregon doesn't need to get complicated defensively. They need to play a solid zone, keep the ball from Fuller, and force USC's guards to make plays. Most likely, the guards will not be able to do that.
FOUR FACTORS PREVIEW
eFG%: Oregon 51.8 (77), USC 43.4 (322)
I don't even need to say more on this subject. ADVANTAGE: OREGON
TURNOVER %: Oregon 20.3 (144), USC 19.9 (127)
Both of these teams have pretty pedestrian numbers offensively, but SC is sixth in the country at creating turnovers defensively. They don't do a whole lot with them, but they still create them. ADVANTAGE: USC
OFFENSIVE REBOUNDING %: Oregon 29.6 (266), USC 30.7 (231)
Again, really bad offensive rebounding stats. Here's the key, though. SC ranks over a hundred spots lower in how many offensive rebounds they give up. Oregon has really improved in this area, and has done pretty well rebounding on the offensive end in their own right the last few games. ADVANTAGE: OREGON
FTA/FGA: Oregon 42.4 (58), USC 32.0 (277)
Given a hundred field goal attempts, you would expect Oregon to have ten more free throws (and shoot ten percentage points higher on those free throws). ADVANTAGE: OREGON
KEYS TO THE GAME
SOLID, FUNDAMENTAL DEFENSE: Oregon doesn't need to do anything fancy or take any chances. They just need to play solid defense, force USC into difficult shots by players not named Aaron Fuller, and watch the Trojans shoot themselves out of the game.
LIMIT TURNOVERS: SC forces a lot of turnovers. The Ducks need to take care of the basketball and not let SC get any easy opportunities offensively.
SET THE TEMPO: SC ranks 337th in the nation in tempo. The Ducks are at home. They need to run them.
This is a game that Oregon should win, especially at home. GO DUCKS!