The second ranked scoring offense of the Pac-12 in the USC Trojans got off to a hot start piling up a few three pointers in the early going. The pace was frantic as both teams raced up and down the court shooting early in the shot clock. Heading into the under-sixteen minute timeout the Ducks were down 14-12, led by the early six points from Elgin Cook.
Out of the timeout the hot shooting from the Trojans continued as Katin Reinhardt nailed another three for the Trojans. Turnovers became an issue for the Ducks yet again as they turned it over on three straight possessions. Chris Boucher led the Ducks on a momentum-swinging run as he swatted Reinhardt at the rim only to run the floor and finish for an and-one opportunity. With 12 minutes to play the Ducks found themselves down 19-18.
Dwayne Benjamin came out of the timeout with aggressive play off the bench as he tallied a quick four points but unfortunately the Trojans kept up their hot shooting from behind the arch to extend the lead to four. After a beautiful alley oop from Cook to Boucher the Ducks claimed the lead at 27-26.
Boucher’s domination on the defensive end continued to lead to opportunities for Oregon on offense. After back-to-back buckets by Cook and Boucher the Ducks had their largest lead at four. With the offense rolling following a Casey Benson three to push the lead to six, USC was forced into a timeout with just over four minutes to play.
After yet another string of Oregon turnovers, USC reclaimed the lead at 37-36 with 3:30 to play. Yet the game of runs continued as Benjamin scored or assisted on eight straight points to take the biggest lead at nine. After a late USC push, Oregon claimed a 46-41 lead at the half.
At halftime the Ducks had three players in double figures with Cook leading the way at 12 and Benjamin and Boucher both with ten. Oregon went into the half winning the rebounding battle 22-19 while losing in the turnover battle 8-4.
Out of the half, Oregon extended the lead back up to seven thanks to continued hot shooting and impressive ball movement. But after more Ducks turnovers and a Boucher goaltending the Trojans were back down by just two points. At this point the tempo wasn’t quite what it was in the first half and at the under sixteen timeout the Ducks still had the lead at 57-51.
Elgin Cook continued leading the Ducks as he extended his scoring total to 17. After three straight USC turnovers Oregon claimed yet another nine point lead. The Ducks continued to score at ease inside as they racked up 35 points in the paint to take a 69-56 lead. Cook continued to be the man as he did it all; hitting threes, dishing out assists and rebounding.
Following a 13-1 run by the Ducks that included a comical missed dunk by the Trojans the lead was extended to 15 with ten minutes to play. With more hot shooting by Dillon Brooks to match the intensive defense, Oregon held onto a 74-60 advantage at the under eight timeout.
The Ducks finally hit a cold stretch hitting just 2-9 field goals giving the Trojans a chance to bring the lead back to eight with over six to play. Oregon weathered the USC run nicely by keeping the ball inside to keep a ten-point lead with 4:31 to play.
With less than four minutes to play, Oregon faced some major foul trouble as Cook, Brooks, and Boucher all had four fouls. Thankfully for the Ducks none of the foul trouble mattered as they closed out the game to pull out an 89-81 victory thanks to Cook’s tied career high of 26 points. With the win, Oregon moves to 15-4 overall and 4-2 in Pac-12 play.
Takeaways of the night:
Elgin Cook. Without a doubt the best game I’ve witnessed Cook play with his 26-point, 5 rebound and 4-assist performance. I loved the point forward role that Dana Altman had him playing a lot of the night that led to the four assists.
Rebounding. Just Sunday after the loss to Colorado I was talking about how bad the rebounding was and how it lost the Ducks the game. Sure a 43-38 rebounding difference tonight isn’t dominating but it more than got the job done. Oregon did what they needed to do and controlled the paint on both ends, as evidenced by the rebounds and the 43-30 points in the paint differential.
Oregon’s bench. Obviously a large part of this is thanks to Benjamin’s 14 points off the bench, but Oregon had a fantastic game in this area. The combined 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists from the bench was a huge contribution.
Oregon’s top performers:
Elgin Cook. 26 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists.
Chris Boucher. 16 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks.
Dillon Brooks. 14 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists