Ducks drop second home game in a row

Eugene, Ore. -- The Oregon Ducks (10-11, 4-5) gave up too many points off turnovers and second chance opportunities on Saturday, losing to the USC Trojans (14-6, 5-4) 84-78. Oregon also did not help itself at the free throw line, hitting 12-of-23 in a disappointing loss that saw center Ivan Johnson benched for undisclosed disciplinary reasons.

(PHOTO) Oregon's Aaron Brooks runs into interference under the basket from Southern California's Keith Wilkinson, right, and N'diaye Abdoulaye (21) during the first half of a college basketball game in Eugene, Ore., Saturday, Jan. 28, 2006. (AP Photo/Thomas Boyd)

"The game just got away from us defensively," said Oregon's head coach Ernie Kent of the contest. "We played well enough offensively to get the win."

A trio of USC sharpshooters made the most of the quick change of possessions and second chances by burying wide open opportunities at will. Gabe Pruitt finished the night as the high scorer with 30 points on 8-of-12 shooting including 6-of-8 from the 3-point arc. Nick Young had 16 that seemed to come just when the Trojans needed to buffer their lead and Lodrick Stewart piled it on with 14, including 2-of-3 in 3-point shots. Two other Trojans also finished in double-figures. Ryan Francis had 11 while N'diaye Adoulaye chipped in 10.

"We didn't expect Gabe (Pruitt) to get off the way he did," said Bryce Taylor of Pruitt's performance. "We didn't defend like we knew we had to and we just gave too any open looks."

The Ducks trailed for nearly all the contest even though they found ways to make runs and on a couple of occasions take a temporary lead. Chamberlain Oguchi came in off the bench to score a career high of 25 points on 8-for-11 field goals including a blistering 6-for-9 in 3-point shooting. The Ducks kept pace with the Trojans until the final seconds when the game was out of reach.

"Chamberlain Oguchi and Ray Schafer played well also," observed Kent. "It's hard for them to sit on the bench and have to come in and play at a high level They certainly showed their ability to do that tonight."

Oregon's head coach felt that if his team could combine Thursday's defensive effort against UCLA and Saturday's offensive effort against USC, that the Ducks would have a much more satisfying result.

"If somehow putting Thursday's defense together with tonight's offense," said Kent of the two games with UCLA and USC. "I thought we did really good on Thursday night and tonight we let them get too many wide open looks."

The Ducks were outscored on points off turnovers 19 to six, second chance points, 14 to 7. The two teams scored nearly identically from the field. USC shot 26-for-49 with 10-of-19 in 3-point shooting and Oregon shot 27-of-51, including 12-of-28 in 3-point shooting.

"We had a great effort defensively against UCLA and I was disappointed that we didn't do that tonight," reflected Kent.

The one big scoring gap between the two teams was in free throw shooting where Oregon was only 12-of-23 compared to USC's 22-of-32.

"We spent a lot of time this week in practice working on free throws," Kent related. "It's disappointing when you out shoot an opponent and then lose the game at the line."

Taylor also scored a season high 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting and 3-of-5 in 3-pointers, but for the second game in a row, only two Ducks scored in double-figures. Malik Hairston's shooting woes continued as he was held to eight points on 2-of-9 shooting. Aaron Brooks, who was hampered with foul trouble and eventually fouled out, had nine points. Brandon Lincoln also was disqualified and could only contribute four points to the cause.

"I've never had a situation where both of my point guards fouled out," Kent explained. "Malik and Bryce stepped in a did a great job down the stretch."

Kent would not elaborate upon his reasons for benching Johnson only saying that something happened in the locker room at halftime. Whether Johnson lost his temper with the coaching staff or not is unclear, however what Kent alluded to was that it was necessary for the coach to keep the player in line. Indicating that he hated to use playing time as a reward or punishment, Kent none the less kept Johnson benched in a crucial part of the game.

"He can take away from this team as much as he can give to the team," Kent said in closing of the situation with Johnson.

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