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USC goes 0 for Oregon, again, in basketball

Two nights after helping christen Oregon's new arena by surrendering the Ducks' first Pac-10 victory, USC loses at Oregon State, 80-76 — the Trojans' sixth consecutive defeat against the Oregon schools.

January 15, 2011|By Baxter Holmes
  • Oregon State guard Jared Cunningham drives to the basket against USC guard Maurice Jones in the second half Saturday night at Gill Coliseum.
Oregon State guard Jared Cunningham drives to the basket against USC guard… (Don Ryan / Associated Press )

Reporting from Corvallis, Ore. — It rained when USC stepped off its plane in Portland on Wednesday night.

It poured almost straight through its in-state stay that ends Sunday morning.

It drizzled when the Trojans exited Oregon's Matthew Knight Arena with a loss Thursday night after a failed comeback.

It fell in gobs Saturday when they entered Gill Coliseum, which they'd also leave with a loss, 80-76 to Oregon State, again following a failed USC comeback.

There's just something about Oregon.

It keeps raining on the Trojans' Pacific 10 Conference title hopes.

"We don't play well against zones and those are two teams that are great at zoning people," said junior forward Nikola Vucevic, who scored a game-high 26 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for USC.

Ah, the zone defense, the Achilles' heel for USC (10-8, 2-3 in league play).

This makes six straight losses to Oregon schools for the Trojans, four last season and two so far this season.

It's a dismal stat for USC fans, considering both Oregon schools are considered among the Pac-10's worst.

"Both games up here, we weren't quite right defensively," USC Coach Kevin O'Neill said.

USC played well enough on offense against Oregon State. It did a fine job executing its game plan to penetrate the Beavers' 1-3-1 and 2-3 zone defenses.

It received 14 points from guard Jio Fontan, 10 from guard Maurice Jones, shot 46% (31 for 68) from the field and had only eight turnovers.

What hurt USC most, as O'Neill said, was its defense, which allowed Oregon State to shoot 56% (24 for 43).

"We have to stop people to win games, and we didn't do that," Vucevic said.

USC certainly couldn't stop Oregon State (8-9, 3-3) at the free-throw line. The Beavers shot 39 free throws, three times as many as USC, and made 27. They were 19 for 29 in the second half.

"I was really surprised the discrepancy was so large," O'Neill said.

Oregon State sophomore guard Jared Cunningham made 10 of 14 free throws, and was six for seven from the field, to score 24 points.

USC trailed by double digits for most of the second half, by as many as 16, but, as it did at Oregon, it closed late, coming to within four points in the final minute.

But, as it did against Oregon, USC could not complete a comeback.

"That's twice we've done that," O'Neill said. "It's really hard when you get all the way back to make all those plays because you've used a lot of energy."

Freshman forward Garrett Jackson, a Portland native, scored nine, playing in front of friends and family.

The game lacked the dazzle of two days earlier when USC lost in the opener of Oregon's state-of-the-art, $200-million-plus marvel.

Playing in a new building, before a sellout crowd of 12,364, the trip here to play in Oregon State's 62-year-old crusty-but-charming coliseum seemed a downgrade.

But the crowd of 7,257 proved to be a raucous bunch, giving USC little to look forward to when it returns next season.

As if it even wants to think about that now.

baxter.holmes@latimes.com

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