Oregon makes history with second AP top five road win in three nights, beats USC 79-69
Will Richardson supplied a career-high 28 points, De’Vion Harmon pitched in 16 points, and the Oregon Ducks became the first team to beat consecutive AP top five teams on the road in nearly 50 years.
After knocking off No. 3 UCLA on Thursday, Oregon came back and thumped No. 5 USC on Saturday, 79-69. Against what was one of the best defenses in college basketball before USC paused team activities for COVID-19 issues within the program, Oregon never trailed.
The Ducks closed the first half on a 13-2 run, and then never let up in the second half. The margin ballooned to 18 early on, and USC got it down to single digits only once for about 20 seconds of game clock.
Jacob Young was the hero against the Bruins on Thursday, but he struggled with his shot against the Trojans, scoring just eight points on 2-of-11 shooting. Richardson provided the scoring punch instead.
He scored 19 of his 28 in the first half, making six of his nine shots and all four of his 3-point attempts.
As a team, Oregon shot 50% from the field and drilled 10 of its 21 triples.
Because of it, the Ducks are the first team in Pac-12 history to beat back-to-back AP top five teams on the road. While so much of the talk around the conference has been about a three-bid league and who’s the best among the Arizona/USC/UCLA trio, Oregon has effectively and emphatically thrust itself into the conversation for tournament consideration. Does it belong among the conference’s elite? Hard to argue when it has beaten two of the three.
The Ducks (11-6, 4-2 Pac-12) have yet to meet the Wildcats this season, and won’t do so until Feb. 19. They’ll host Washington State on Thursday, Jan. 20, at 6:30 p.m. PT.
For the Trojans (14-2, 4-2 Pac-12), a return from a lengthy COVID pause has left the team searching for some answers.
It let a bottom-of-the-table Cal squad hang around in its first game back, then lost to Stanford 75-69 for the first defeat of the season. To follow that loss up, it needed a second-half rally to beat what was a 3-11 Oregon State team.
The 79 points allowed to Oregon were a season-high, as it has been the defense that has slipped since the return. The four best opponent shooting performances of the season have all come in the last four games. Prior to Cal, no team had shot above 40% from the field on the Trojans.
Opponents have also hit 29 of their 62 triples against the Trojans in the last three games (47%). Prior to that stretch, USC was holding teams under 28% from 3. The offense had been doing enough to get by while the Trojan defense stifled teams, and USC will need to try and regain that sense of urgency on the defensive end.
The Trojans travel to Colorado on Thursday. Tip-off is set for 4:30 p.m. PT.