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(21) Oregon (14-2) at USC (7-10)
Thursday, January 17, 11 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, College Basketball Senior Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Galen Center (10,258) -- Los Angeles, California. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Oregon 12-0, USC 5-4. Away Record: Oregon 2-1, USC 1-4. Neutral Record: Oregon 0-1, USC 1-2. Conference Record: Oregon 3-0, USC 2-2. Series Record: USC leads, 60-49.
GAME NOTES: The surprising Oregon Ducks take their act on the road this week with a pair of Pac-12 games in the city of Los Angeles, starting with Thursday night's clash with the USC Trojans at the Galen Center.
Dana Altman's Ducks are sitting atop the Pac-12 standings with an unblemished 3-0 mark. The win streak in-conference is part of a larger win streak that was extended to five games with last week's upset of top-five foe Arizona (70-66) and win over Arizona State (68-65).
The Trojans have struggled to a 7-10 overall mark this season and as a result the powers that be made a change at the top, relieving Kevin O'Neill of his duties as head coach. Assistant Bob Cantu has stepped in on an interim basis and is charged with turning things around. USC did get a win last weekend, blasting Utah on the road, 76-59 to move to 2-2 in Pac-12 play.
USC holds a 60-49 lead in the all-time series with Oregon, although the Ducks have won five straight over the Trojans.
Although Oregon shot just .407 from the floor against the Sun Devils last weekend, the team was able to hold a 32-29 edge in rebounding and outscored ASU 14-5 at the free-throw line in the narrow victory. Carlos Emory, Tony Woods and Damyean Dotson tied for team-high honors with 14 points apiece. Dominic Artis added 10 points to the cause.
The Ducks have been strong at both ends of the floor and are currently sporting a +15.1 scoring margin, averaging 76.4 ppg, while limiting foes to just 61.4 ppg. Oregon has also dominated on the glass, with a +9.2 rebounding margin, while forcing 16.6 turnovers per outing. All five starters are currently averaging double figures, giving Altman plenty of options at the offensive end. Dotson leads the way with 11.8 ppg. Woods is next in line (10.9 ppg), followed by Emory (10.5 ppg), E.J. Singler (10.3 ppg) and Artis (10.1 ppg).
It isn't a coincidence that getting J.T. Terrell back in the starting lineup and the team's recent offensive eruption happened at Utah. Terrell netted a team-high 14 points in the lopsided win at Utah, in turn helping USC and an ugly 14-game losing streak on the road. Dewayne Dedmon was strong inside, with 13 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks. Byron Wesley and Jio Fontan added 13 points apiece as well.
The 76 points scored against the Utes has to give Cantu a reason to be optimistic going forward, as USC is averaging a meager 63.8 ppg on the year. Eric Wise is currently the only double-digit threat on the roster at 11.9 ppg. Terrell is eager to join him at 9.3 ppg, followed closely by Wesley and Fontan at 9.2 and 8.6 ppg, respectively.
The Trojans aren't exactly a rudderless ship as Cantu is certainly qualified to run the show for now. However, Oregon is red-hot and isn't likely to falter on Thursday.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oregon 71, USC 62
01/17 10:39:27 ET
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