Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
Oregon starts the LA road trip with a game at USC
With the news that Chip Kelly is going to the Phila..
This post isn't really about that. Lost in all the hubbub about our head football coach leaving us for a sexier lady is the fact that we have the No. 21 ranked basketball team in all the country and that said basketball team begins a big road trip tonight by taking on the USC Trojans in Los Angeles. USC is fortunate to be 2-2 in the conference. So fortunate, in fact, that AD Pat Haden decided to fire head coach Kevin O'Neill on Monday despite the fact that SC was coming off of a 17-point road win at Utah.
There are a few things the Ducks have to overcome in this one. The first is that it has all the marks of a classic trap game. UCLA on Saturday is the marquee matchup, and it would only be natural to look ahead to that game. But winning against ranked teams on the road is always unlikely. You need road splits to have a chance to win the conference, and if you lose to SC, you're in a very precarious situation. Conversely, if you take care of business against the Trojans, you have nothing to lose and a win at UCLA becomes a bonus. The other factor is what USC's emotions are going to be like in their first game since O'Neill's firing. For whatever reason, teams often seem to win that first game.
USC's big problem is that their offense is abysmal. They simply don't have any shotmakers. Nic Wise averages 12 a game, and is the only player in double-digits. Conversely, Oregon has four players averaging that. This team ranks last in the conference in efficiency. 11th in field goal percentage. 10th in three-point percentage. Last in free throw rate. Last in points. They don't turn the ball over much--good on them for that--but they just can't put it in the basket. And they're tasked with facing the best defensive team in the conference in Oregon.
They also don't rebound well at all ranking 11th in the conference in defense. The way Oregon has pounded opponents on the boards has been well documented here, and USC seems likely to be another victim. The Trojans are merely middle of the pack defensively. Given their profile, its easy to see why they have the worst overall record in the league.
If Oregon comes out with the right mindset, they should be fine. But if they're caught looking ahead, they could suffer a season-altering loss.
Galen Center, Los Angeles