Depth, offense plague USC in loss to Oregon

When the Oregon men’s basketball team came to the Galen Center on Saturday, neither the Ducks nor the Trojans could generate many points.

USC started the game cold, only scoring 19 points and shooting just under 26 percent in the first half.

Oregon (13-12, 6-7) did not shoot much better, accumulating 25 points in the opening half on 33 percent shooting.

Main threat · USC junior forward Nikola Vucevic shouldered the offensive load once again, scoring 22 points and grabbing 16 rebounds, his 14th double-double of the season. The next-closest scorers, Maurice Jones and Donte Smith, had nine points each. - Tim Tran | Daily Trojan

Both teams shot 50 percent in the second half, but Oregon came out on top, 61-51.

For the game, the Trojans (13-12, 5-7) made three of 19 three-point attempts and missed half of their 12 free throws.

“You are not going to win many games shooting like we did,” said USC coach Kevin O’Neill.

After defeating Oregon State on Thursday, the Trojans had hoped to earn their first Pac-10 Conference weekend sweep.

“It is tough when we try to win two games in a row and get a streak going, and we cannot do it,” said junior forward Nikola Vucevic. “It is frustrating, but the only thing we can do is keep playing.”

Vucevic scored USC’s first six points, and 10 of the Trojans’ first 15 points. He led the Trojans with 22 points and 16 rebounds, although he missed 11 of his 22 field goal attempts.

“[Vucevic] missed seven or eight lay-ups,” O’Neill said. “As he gets older, he has to dunk [the ball].”

No other USC player scored more than nine points. Three players — Vucevic, freshman guard Maurice Jones and senior guard Donte Smith — combined to score 40 of the Trojans’ 51 points.

“Basketball is a team game,” Vucevic said. “I would rather have 10 points and have the rest of the guys get 10 points too if we win than me getting 30 points and we keep losing.”

Jones contributed nine points and six assists for the Trojans. Junior guard Jio Fontan also had six assists.

Smith started the game wearing tape on his right thumb as a result of an injury suffered Thursday against Oregon State.

Midway through the first half, Smith ripped off the tape.

He missed his first four three-point attempts, and finished with nine points on 1-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc.

The Ducks were paced by guard Malcolm Armstead, who had 14 points and five assists off the bench.

“Armstead killed us,” O’Neill said. “Not one guy stayed in front of Armstead all night long.”

From the end of the first half through the beginning of the second half, the Ducks went on a 10-0 run.

The Trojans responded, going on a 11-2 run of their own to cut Oregon’s lead to 34-30.

The Ducks then went on another run, scoring 11 of the game’s next 16 points to extend their lead.

USC went on a 9-2 run late to cut Oregon’s lead to eight, but it was too little, too late.

The Trojans will play their first game outside of Los Angeles in the month of February when they travel to Berkeley to play at California on Feb. 17.

The Trojans fell to the Golden Bears (13-12, 6-7) on Jan. 22, 68-66, despite a career-high 24 points from Smith, who made eight three-pointers.

Cal, which has lost its last three games, is led by forward Harper Kamp, who averages 14.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.