The men’s basketball team could not put an end to its longest losing streak since the 1995-1996 season on Saturday, falling to Oregon State (13-7, 3-5) at Gill Coliseum, 78-59. The Trojans (5-15, 0-7) have lost eight straight games and are the only team in the Pac-12 without a conference victory.
After jumping to an early 8-5 advantage, USC relinquished its lead to the Beavers with 14:15 remaining in the first half and never got it back. Oregon State led 36-22 going into the break and cruised to an easy win after outscoring the Trojans by five in the final 20 minutes of action. USC played a sloppy game, committing 18 turnovers and struggling to break out of Oregon State’s trapping defense.
“When you turn the ball over as much as we did, you’re not going to have a chance to win on the road,” USC coach Kevin O’Neill said. “They did a good job with their 1-3-1 trap; we didn’t do a good job of handling and attacking it and getting into the paint.”
Freshman guard Byron Wesley led the Trojans with 15 points on an efficient 7-10 shooting night. Sophomore guard Maurice Jones added 13, sophomore forward Garrett Jackson had 12 and sophomore forward Dewayne Dedmon, coming off an impressive 18-point performance against Oregon, finished with eight points and eight rebounds.
The Beavers, meanwhile, were led by guard Jared Cunningham, who put up 18 points, five assists, three rebounds and two steals in 28 minutes of action.
“That guy is going to play for money someday,” O’Neill said. “He’s definitely an NBA prospect, a guy who is going to play at the next level as a point guard. He’s got an NBA body, he’s a legit first team all Pac-12 player, so I’m not surprised he played like that.”
Three of Oregon State’s players hit double digits, with forward Devon Collier scoring 12 points, center Joe Burton with 11 and guard Ahmad Starks with 10. Forward Eric Moreland chipped in defensively, contributing 11 rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
“We played well up at Oregon, didn’t play well [on Saturday],” O’Neill said. “Oregon State played well, and they deserved to win.”
The Trojans had just seven scholarship players on the roster because of an assortment of injuries, prompting O’Neill to insert junior walk-on Daniel Munoz into the starting lineup. Munoz finished with three points, two assists, and four turnovers in twelve minutes on the court.
“The bottom line is when you’ve got two walk-ons in your rotation and you’re starting one of them, it’s not going to be a good situation,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill will need to decide whether to keep Munoz as the starting point guard when the Trojans return home for a matchup against Colorado (13-6, 5-2) on Thursday. The Trojans will follow that up with a game against Utah (5-14, 2-5) on Jan. 28.
“We’ll see how it goes,’ O’Neill said. “Daniel played really well the other night, he didn’t play so well tonight, but all of these guys are in roles they really can’t handle right now because of all of our injury problems.”
With so many players out of the rotation, a return to the Galen Center might be the one thing the Trojans have going for them as they attempt to squash an eight-game losing streak.