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USC Can't Guard Against Oregon's Backcourt : Taylor and Johnson Help Ducks Hold Off Trojans' Rally for a 74-62 Victory

February 07, 1988|JOHN CONRAD | Special to The Times

EUGENE, Ore. — USC Coach George Raveling believes the Trojans' biggest problems are in the backcourt.

That didn't serve USC well Saturday as Oregon guards Anthony Taylor and Frank Johnson combined for 47 points to lead the Ducks to a 74-62 Pacific 10 Conference basketball victory before a crowd of 8,645 at McArthur Court.

USC (5-14 overall, 3-7 in the Pac-10) battled back from an 18-point second-half deficit to trail by seven with three minutes left, but Taylor's three-point bomb from the corner as the 45-second clock expired gave the Ducks a safe 70-60 advantage.

"I'm pleased with our inside people," Raveling said of front-liners Chris Munk, Ronnie Coleman and Chris Moore. "The thing that is hurting us most is our lack of consistency at the guards.

"Oregon's guard play was great. Taylor (27 points) is a given, but Johnson (20 points) is vastly improved from the first time we played them. He's playing with more confidence, and his shot selection was impeccable."

Johnson was 8 of 11 from the field, including three three-pointers. Taylor was only 7 of 18 from the field but was 11 of 15 from the line.

Taylor's foul-shot total beat USC's team total (9 of 12). The Trojans were whistled for 26 fouls to 15 for Oregon (10-8, 5-5).

Munk, Coleman and guard Andy Olivarez each picked up three fouls in the first half, and Munk and Coleman drew their fourth within seconds of each other with more than 12 minutes to play. Coleman had 19 points and 7 rebounds, but Munk picked up just 5 points and 4 rebounds in 24 minutes before fouling out.

"I thought there were ebbs and flows to the way the game was called just as there was to the way it was played," Raveling said. "But we can't blame this loss on the officials.

"We are still in the prep school of basketball. We have a great ability to realize droughts, they've been our nemesis all year, and the only good thing is we're cutting them down to four or five minutes instead of 10 or 11."

The Trojans had two droughts in this game.

In the first half, they trailed, 19-18, and then surrendered 11 straight points to trail, 30-18. They battled back to 42-34 at halftime, but then went nearly five minutes before scoring to start the second half and were on the short end of a 49-34 count after Johnson's three-pointer and a basket and two free throws by Taylor.

The Trojans battled back again, to within 67-60 with three minutes left. But, after an Oregon turnover, Coleman missed a shot that would have cut it to five, and Taylor threw in his three-pointer on an inbounds play with four seconds on the shot clock.

"The thing that disappointed me about that play is it's one we know they like to go to and we lacked the mental discipline to cover it properly," Raveling said. "I give Taylor all the credit in the world, but we didn't get switched on the play. With the time factor, when the guy picked up his dribble we should have been all over him."

Said Coleman: "I went out there but I got there too late. I didn't think I was going to have to do it (switch), but Alan (Pollard) said 'bump' at the last second."

The Trojans hurt themselves with 12 turnovers in the first half as the Ducks played full-court defense for the first time this season after the Trojans' problems with pressure in a loss Thursday to Oregon State.

USC overcame some of that with 50% shooting from the field. But in the second half, in which they committed just six turnovers, the Trojans cooled to 37.5% shooting and weren't getting many opportunities from the line.

Still, until Taylor's three-pointer and four straight free throws down the stretch, USC had a chance.

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