Oregon Ducks Squeak by USC, 76-74

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

A classic trap-game for the Ducks, coming off a big weekend sweep of the Arizona schools, looking forward to Ucla on Saturday and USC playing their first game since they fired their coach, the Ducks pulled out a close one after playing pretty lackluster for most of the night.

The game was sloppy from the get go for both teams. Neither team had any rhythm on either end of the court. Oregon would take an early 20-11 lead on back-to-back threes by Johnathan Loyd but J.T. Terrell would respond with with 4 straight points to close the gap.

That was pretty much the story of the night. Every time Oregon would make a run and try and pull away, poor execution on the defensive end, or a string of turnovers and terrible shot selection would allow USC an opportunity to get back into it.

Late in the first half it was free throws and jumpers by Damyean Dotson that kept Oregon's offensive momentum up. Dotson finished the night tied with EJ Snigler as leading scorers for the Ducks. With four minutes to go, Oregon pushed the lead back to 7 on a block by Artis from behind that was gathered by Emory and passed back to Artis on the break. Artis attacked the rim and drew 2 USC defenders to him where he dropped it off behind him to a hustling Waverly Austin, for a one-handed slam.

Once again USC was able to close the lead to 2 on a couple of free throws and a three-point jumper by Terrell with :10 left. Oregon got lucky at the end of the half as Artis found Emory busting ahead who pump-faked and threw up a desperate 3 as the clock sounded, only to be bailed out by the refs and given 3 free throws; which he made 2.

The second was just as bad as the first. Again sloppy offense led to poor shot selection and lack of defensive execution continued to let USC hang around. Oregon was able to rely on a couple of their other strengths tonight even though their defense was letting them down. Oregon got 8 offensive rebounds in the second half and had 9 more field goal attempts than their opponent. They also continue to improve on taking care of the ball as Oregon finished with only 8 total turnovers in the game.

Assists were way down as Oregon had to rely on EJ Singler in the second half to carry the load. EJ finished the night with 14 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists, but his most important part of his game was carrying the offense down the stretch. EJ was critical in creating shots for other guys or keeping Oregon in their offense as they were able to get their largest lead of the game at 75-65 with 2:59 remaining.

Unfortunately, something that has started to show as a weakness for the Ducks recently, their end game strategy and clock management late, let USC score 9 unanswered and get within 1 with :34 left. Dominic Artis was able to hit one of two free throws to push the lead to 2, and after a flurry of activity after a USC miss which at least 3 Trojan players had a chance to hit a game tying shot, Arsalan Kazemi was able to corral a rebound and get fouled with :01.9 remaining.

The Ducks again had balanced scoring as 5 guys ended in double figures ( Loyd, Artis, Emory Dotson, and Singler) and Woods had 8. Oregon dominated the rebounding 37 to 26 especially on the offensive side. Shooting was pretty even as Oregon went 27-63 from the field and 7-19 from 3. USC shot a little better percentage at 45%, but was only 24-53 and 6-15 from 3.

Oregon is going to need to focus their defense better if they have any chance of picking off Ucla on Saturday. The execution on both ends of the floor needs to improve if they have any shot of shutting down Ucla's 10 game winning streak.

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