The USC men’s basketball team ended a disappointing road trip on Saturday night with a 78-66 loss at the hands of the Oregon Ducks. The loss came just two days after the Trojans (10-12, 1-8 Pac-12) fell to Oregon State 76-75 in a devastating overtime contest. With losses to both Oregon schools, USC has now lost eight of their last nine games and fallen to last place in the Pac-12 conference.
Junior guard Byron Wesley’s 19-point effort led the way for the Trojans who kept things interesting in the first half. On Saturday the team grabbed a 12-6 early lead thanks to Wesley’s sharp shooting, but could not keep the Ducks (15-6, 3-6) at bay for long. The two squads would trade the lead for the rest of the half, with USC taking a 38-34 advantage into the break. Other key first-half contributors for the Trojans were senior center Omar Oraby and senior guards Pe’Shon Howard and J.T. Terrell. Oraby excited the visiting crowd with a key slam dunk to give the Trojans a three-point lead late in the half.
The second half was not nearly as promising for an inconsistent USC squad. Strong play from the Oregon backcourt combined with crucial mistakes would kill the Trojans’ chances for a second conference victory. The team finished the game with a season-high 22 turnovers.
Oregon clinched victory midway through the half with an impressive 12-0 run, sparked by excellent play on both sides of the ball from guards Joseph Young and Jason Calliste. Young added six steals to his game-high 21 points, while Calliste chipped in with 18 points and two steals of his own. The Ducks would finish with 16 team steals, one short of a school record. Oregon stretched its lead to as much as 17 before USC closed the gap to 12 in the final minutes.
Terrell would end up with 15 points for USC, while Oraby added 10. Howard, whose missed free throw late in the overtime period was crucial in the team’s loss at Oregon State on Thursday, finished with eight. Freshman guard Julian Jacobs led the team with nine rebounds.
The Trojans have lost three straight after an impressive home win over the Cal Bears, who defeated previously-unbeaten No. 1 Arizona Saturday night. The team now returns home to face archrival UCLA next Saturday in a 7:30 p.m. tilt at the Galen Center. The Bruins took down the Trojans 107-73 on Jan. 5.