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USC will play a tough schedule next season

'We're trying to play a heavyweight schedule,' Coach Kevin O'Neill says of slate that includes games at Kansas, Tennessee and Nebraska.

January 30, 2010|By Baxter Holmes

Reporting from Eugene, Ore. — USC's nonconference schedule next season is shaping into something tough.

There are agreements to play at Kansas, Tennessee and Nebraska; Texas would come to the Galen Center. There is also a tentative deal for USC to host Marquette in the first of a two-game series.

"We're trying to play a heavyweight schedule," USC Coach Kevin O'Neill said. "We want to be able to recruit high-level recruits to play in a high-level league and play a high-level nonconference schedule."

The team has been invited to two tournaments next season, but it has yet to choose which to attend, O'Neill said.

Goodbye game

Tonight will be USC's last game at Oregon's famed McArthur Court. Matthew Knight Arena will open next season.

USC guard Dwight Lewis, a senior, vividly remembers his first trip to the court known as "The Pit" and "Mac Court."

He was a freshman, playing in his first Pacific 10 Conference road game. The competition was tight, back and forth late into the game.

"One of our guys was shooting free throws and they were chanting and making so much noise and I really felt it was shaking under my feet," Lewis said.

Lewis had 10 points in the game, which USC won, 84-82 -- the second in what is now a four-game winning streak at Oregon.

"It's a good atmosphere to play basketball," Lewis said.

Ducks support

Senior Tajuan Porter averages 12.7 points and gets most of the attention for Oregon -- and rightly so. The scrappy 5-foot-7 guard has water-bug quickness, a nasty crossover dribble and a quick-but-accurate release.

But the Ducks also have guard Malcolm Armstead (11.1 points) and bruising center Michael Dunigan (10.9 points, 5.7 rebounds).

"Those guys are all prime-time players," O'Neill said. "Some of the best in the league."

O'Neill said his team needs to limit Oregon's transition offense, but the key could be Oregon's pressing defense.

If it stretches the length of the court, the Trojans' Mike Gerrity might more easily weave through it. But if it doesn't extend that far, leaving less space to maneuver, it could force the Trojans into turnovers, which is what happened at Oregon State.

baxter.holmes@latimes.com

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