Behind standout offensive performances from redshirt sophomore guard Shaqquan Aaron and sophomore forward Bennie Boatwright, USC routed visiting Oregon State 92-66 on Thursday night at the Galen Center.
Aaron finished with a game high 21 points (4-21, 0-12). He finished Thursday night shooting 5-of-6 from 3-point range. Aaron also reeled in six rebounds for the Trojans in the victory.
“I feel like I’m getting really used to the flow of the game. I feel comfortable out there on the floor now,” Aaron said. “When I get in the game (off of the bench), I just make sure that I do what I need to do for the team.”
Aaron’s 3-pointer late in the second half gave USC a 28-point lead (88-60) with 1:40 minutes remaining in regulation. Overall, Aaron shot 7-of-10 from the field against Oregon State. Aaron’s five 3-point field goals were a career-high.
In his first contest at the Galen Center since returning from an MCL injury in November, Boatwright finished Thursday night with 16 points. Boatwright was a perfect 9-for-9 from the free throw line against the Beavers.
“I’m starting to get my legs under me now, it’s starting to all come back,” Boatwright said.
With the blowout victory, USC has now won five consecutive Pac-12 games for the first time since the 2002 season. USC has averaged 85.2 points per game during the five game winning streak.
“We’ve found a way to put together some good conference wins this season,” Enfield said. “We had a tough start to conference play shooting the ball, but we found ways to win games.”
Thursday night’s victory puts the Trojans (21-4 overall) at an 8-4 record in conference play.
Overall, USC finished the game shooting 28-of-55 (51 percent) from the field. The Trojans concluded the game by converting on six of their final seven shot attempts.
Four USC players finished in double-digits scoring — Aaron, Boatwright, junior guard Elijah Stewart with 14 points and sophomore forward Chimezie Metu with 11 points.
After falling behind 6-0 in the opening minute of regulation, the Trojans went on a 16-4 run that pulled them ahead of the Beavers. A 3-pointer from junior point guard McLaughlin four minutes into regulation gave USC a 10-8 lead that they would not surrender for the remainder of the contest.
A 16-5 run from USC over the final nine minutes of the first half gave the Trojans a 44-27 lead at the break.
After opening the game shooting 9-of-15 from the field, Oregon State finished the first half by missing 17 of its final 19 first half shot attempts. USC held the Beavers scoreless in the final 4:23 of the opening half.
“We did a great job getting our hands on the basketball defensively tonight,” Enfield said. “We were able to block shots, deflect passes … it was a real good defensive effort from us tonight.”
The Trojans opened the game firing on all cylinders offensively. In the first nine minutes of the first half they shot 6-for-8 from the 3-point line.
USC opened the game shooting 7-of-9 from the field as they retook the lead early on. USC shot 12-for-12 from the free throw line in the first half. Overall, the Trojans shot 26-for-31 (84 percent) from the foul line.
A 13-5 run from Oregon State midway through the second half pulled the Beavers within 11 points of USC.
However, the Beavers would not get within single digits of the Trojans the entire second half.
USC’s 92 points scored Thursday were its most in a Pac-12 game this season.
Behind Aaron’s 21 points off of the bench, USC’s bench outscored Oregon State’s, 39-14. Metu contributed on the glass with seven total rebounds. Overall, the Trojans outrebounded the Beavers by a margin of 37-30.
USC freshman forward Nick Rakocevic had a career-high four blocks Thursday. The Trojans, as a team, compiled seven total blocks defensively.
USC capitalized on Oregon State’s offensive mishaps Thursday night. The Trojans outscored the Beavers in points off of turnovers, 20-3. Hustle points were also in favor of the Trojans, as USC outscored Oregon State in second chance points 14-3.
The Trojans will remain at home for their upcoming matchup with the visiting No. 5 Oregon Ducks (21-4, 10-2). The Ducks are coming off of an 82-79 loss to No. 10 UCLA Thursday night.
USC will look to extend its Pac-12 winning streak to six games and avenge its Dec. 30 84-61 loss to Oregon Saturday night at home.
“You’d much rather be on a five-game winning streak than a five-game losing streak going into a game like this one,” Enfield said. “[Oregon’s] a great team and they’re good on the road. We have our hands full with them, so we are going to be ready to compete. It helps that we’ve been playing well. Our players are confident, and it’s on our home floor.”