If Saturday's game was an audition for Nate Hair to remain the starter for the injured Sam Clancy, then he passed it with plenty of room to spare.
His 14-point effort against Oregon State gave him his second career high in two games. (By contrast, freshman center Kostas Charissis did not score in his two starts.) He played within the flow of the Trojans' offense, and most of his five field goals (in seven attempts) were free of a defender's presence.
More important, he gave USC another three-point presence to stretch defenses away from the long distance sniping of Brian Scalabrine, Brandon Granville and David Bluthenthal.
"He played well," Coach Henry Bibby said. "I went with Nate because I thought we needed another shooter in the lineup. I know Nate can make shots; he's proven that."
Hair said he started getting ready when he heard Clancy and Jarvis Turner were ruled out six to eight weeks because of foot injuries.
"Coach Bibby called all the freshmen into his office and said we would have to step it up," Hair said. "And in getting ready for this [Oregon] trip in practice it felt like I couldn't miss shots. My confidence started to rise, and the confidence of the coaching staff started to rise.
"I felt like I've got my opportunity to get out there. But I don't feel any pressure on me. If I'm open, I'm gonna shoot it."
The Trojans are not going to make 20 three-point baskets every game, as they did against the Beavers. But until Clancy--their best post player--returns, the Trojans will need good outside shooting for their games with California and Stanford.
Even though the Trojans were in control of the game from the 11-minute mark of the second half, Bibby did not make any substitutions until there was less than a minute to play.
"There wasn't any need to make changes," Bibby said. "The guys were playing well and they weren't tired. Your top players are going to play those amount of minutes every night. I don't think Nate was tired. He was still making shots at the end."