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Trojan Horse Plot Discovered, Basketball Team Whipped as Punishment: Oregon 66, USC 80

The Ducks had their chances throughout the game but just couldn't keep it together long enough to get by the Trojans down in Southern California. Oregon was down 12 to the Trojans with about 6 minutes to go in the first half and came storming back to go into halftime only down 1. When the Trojans broke out to a big lead in the second half, the Ducks went on a run to cut the lead to 2. Then, the wheels fell off the cart and the bigger, more experienced USC squad took over the game and never looked back. We just couldn't make buckets when we needed to. Our shooting percentage was even lower than our season average, coming in at 37 percent. When you factor in USC shooting nearly 60 percent for the game from the field, you won't win many basketball games that way. Here are some thoughts from Ernie.

I thought in the first half we got in a hole and did a great job in coming back and even in the second half. We got in a hole, down 10-11 we did a great job of coming back again. You are sitting there 66-64 with the ball in your hand and I think they outscored us 14-0 from that stretch on.

This was heartbreaking to listen to. After the first half comeback, you really got the sense that we were going to do it again, just like the OSU game at Mac Court. All the pieces were in place. We were playing good defense, shutting down the backdoor plays and making shots. Then, what has happened so many times this year...we have a few turnovers, they get some easy buckets and they are up 4 and 6 and 8 points. We couldn't recover from that, not a third time.

There's not a better offense I can give you than a 2 foot layup with a guy on your back. You've got to be able to score or get fouled in there and it is a strength thing. It's explosiveness, it's taking a hit from a physical guy when the ref's not going to call a foul and the ball's in your hand trying to score. That's a process you have to go through. I've seen it before. I'm looking at their guys saying, you know, when they were freshman, they couldn't finish like this and I've got freshman that just have a hard time finishing around the bucket.

Perhaps a little frustration coming out of Ernie here but after the season we've had, I'm not surprised this is bubbling up. The team felt like it was getting worked over like a jock at a Star Trek Convention. Lots of non-calls by the refs, elbows, pushing, it was a hard-nosed game. Oregon just got worn down physically and you could tell at the end of the game when movement all but stopped and the team started watching an exhausted Tajuan Porter try to make something happen. You just won't get good results going in that direction. That's not how you made your previous comebacks and it won't help you here. Ernie goes into it a little in the next quote.

Did the team run out of energy at the end of the game?

Well, that's not the case in this game. I felt like it shouldn't have been a situation of energy because our bench is deep enough. I call it a toughness thing, a mental toughness thing. The energy was ok, but just the mental toughness to make plays. They had men at times with muscles and bigger guys, stronger and they came at us and backed us down. We didn't make a play right there. That's not an energy thing, that's a physical thing right there.

Stat of the game: Over half of the USC points were in the paint

I think the Trojans saw something in the Ducks game against OSU that they exploited in this game. We are not good at depending the backdoor play. Oregon State was able to execute that play, almost at will, against our bigs down low. We were able to counter it later with athleticism. Against USC, we just couldn't get it done because of the physical nature of play. On a positive note, Crittle had a very nice game, nearly grabbing his first double-double with 10 points and 8 rebounds. TP had a solid 20 points but 7 turnovers. I miss the old Catron. He was 0-6 with 3 rebounds in 19 minutes.