Different zone, same problem for the USC men’s basketball team (10-8, 2-3) on Saturday night in Corvallis, Ore. as they fell 80-76 to the Oregon State Beavers (8-9, 3-3).
Seven minutes into the contest, the Beavers trailed briefly at 12-10, but behind sophomore guard Jared Cunningham’s team-high 24 points, coach Craig Robinson’s squad never trailed the rest of the evening.
Oregon State now goes to 8-0 on the year when having at least four starters in double figures.
Against the Trojans, Cunningham’s big night was one of many bright spots. Senior forward Omar Johnson notched his second double-double of the season (12 points and 11 rebounds), while senior guards Lethan Wallace and Calvin Haynes eclipsed their season scoring averages with 12 points and 11 points respectively.
Craig Robinson’s well-implemented 2-3 zone trap seemed to plague USC throughout the night at Gill Gymnasium.
Junior forward Nikola Vucevic was a one-man force on the interior all night long, posting a team-high 26 points and 14 rebounds.
The problem for Kevin O’Neill’s lethargic squad on Saturday night was that no else really made a big dent in the Beavers’ zone defense — a pattern that has been consistent in previous losses to Rider, Washington and Oregon.
Freshman guard Maurice Jones had 14 points in the defeat, but the Trojans looked a step slow all night long, in what was their second game in three nights.
The Trojans failed to get a victory on their two-game visit to the state of Oregon, and on Saturday night the box score tells the story for a team that still has yet to muster a thorough offensive attack against an opponent’s zone defense — USC recorded eight turnovers compared to just nine assists.
USC returns home to the Galen Center to take on the Stanford Cardinal (10-6, 3-2) at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday night.
Saturday night’s loss puts USC below .500 in conference play, and puts them in 7th place in the Pac-10 standings.