Ducks Collapse in 2nd Half, Fall to SC 81-75

The USC Trojans (16-9, 7-6) rallied from a 15 point first half deficit to deliver a critical blow to Oregon's NCAA tourney hopes with a 81-75 victory over the Ducks at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. OJ Mayo led USC's second half comeback hitting several big baskets including a back-breaking 25 foot three with the shot clock expiring to give the Trojans a 73-69 lead late in the game.

(PHOTO) Southern California's O.J. Mayo shoots over Oregon's Joevan Catron during the second half in an NCAA college basketball game on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008, in Los Angeles. Southern Cal won, 81-75. (AP Photo/Jeff Lewis)[

Oregon (15-11, 6-8) started hot behind the three point shooting of TaJuan Porter and led the entire first half. The Ducks had their biggest lead at 40-25 with two and a half minutes remaining in the first half, but the Trojans ended the half on a mini run and were able to get the lead under ten, 42-33, at the break. The Ducks were sparked by reserve LeKendric Longmire who had all eight of his points in the first half.

Mayo, who started slow, dominated the second half and finished with a game high 32 points, two shy of his career high. The Ducks were hurt inside by the play of Taj Gibson who had 15 points and 8 rebounds. Keith Wilkinson added a career high 11 rebounds off the bench leading USC to a 30-24 rebounding advantage over Oregon.

USC took its first lead with 9:15 left in the game on a layup by Angelo Johnson off a pretty assist from Mayo. USC shot 51% from the field for the game on 26-51 shooting and were a blistering 53% from three-point range, led by Mayo who hit 5 of 7 from behind the arc.

Malik Hairston led a balanced Oregon attack with 17 points while Porter added 16 and four three pointers. JoeVan Catron had 14 points and Maarty Leunen scored ten points to go along with eight rebounds.

It was the 2nd straight crucial loss for Oregon who lost a key game against Washington State last Saturday. The Ducks now find themselves in a position with no margin for error. Oregon will be in must win scenarios for the rest of the season if they want to make the NCAA field unless they can turn things around and win the Pac-10 tourney in March.

Oregon next plays 6th ranked UCLA on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion.

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