Things Fall Apart

Repeating what seems to be their habit of late, the No. 19 University of Oregon Ducks played another shaky ballgame which was their demise today against the USC Trojans, losing 91-76.

Oregon's defense was uninspired and nonexistent today, allowing USC way too many easy inside shots and open perimeter opportunities. At times, Oregon had one player play great perimeter defense but then a pass inside found a wide open Trojan ballplayer for an easy lay up.

Not only did Oregon (15-5, 5-4) struggle on the defensive end, but Oregon failed to hold onto the ball. In the first half the Ducks committed 20 turnovers. 12 of those turnovers came on USC steals. Oregon did clean it up in the second half, committing only five turnovers in the final period.

"SC had something to do with five or six of (the turnovers), but the rest of them were sloppy play and sloppy passing on our part," Oregon Coach Ernie Kent told OSN.

(PHOTO RIGHT) Southern California's Rory O'Neil (21) defends Oregon's Andre Joseph in the second half Sunday, Feb. 2, 2003, at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. USC won 91-76. (AP Photo/Ric Francis)

In complete contrast to Oregon's uninspired basketball today, USC (8-9, 4-5) played great basketball. Name a player on the USC roster and he probably was huge for the Trojans at some point during the game. Errick Craven, Rory O'Neil, Desmond Farmer and Gregg Guenther, among others played great games.

After Ian Crosswhite and Luke Jackson took over the game on Thursday night against UCLA, they did not meet expectations today, struggling to play defense and creating hardly any offense.

Normally, if the Ducks are behind late in the game, Crosswhite, Jackson, Luke Ridnour or another player steps up and start making plays. Today the Ducks didn't have a player make any attempt to take the game over, with repeated missed shots and poor passes resulting in turnovers down the stretch. It was as though they lost interest late, allowing SC to do what they wanted on both ends of the floor.

"It's almost as though we got the split and then relaxed a little bit," Kent said.

Many times this season rebounding has been one of Oregon's Achilles Heals and today was no different. Oregon's big men combined for 13 rebounds and as a team the Ducks only grabbed 24 boards in comparison to the Trojans' 43. Six foot two inch Errick Craven grabbed 10 rebounds for the Trojans, eight more than Oregon's six foot eleven Ian Crosswhite.

"You can't blame (the inside players) but they know they've got to step up," Kent said. "They had no legs and mentally they were extremely out of it."

(PHOTO LEFT)Oregon's Luke Ridnour, left, steals the ball from University of Southern California's Derrick Craven in the first half Sunday, Feb. 2, 2003, at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. (AP Photo/Ric Francis)

The Trojans were led by nearly every player on the team today out on the floor. Errick Craven just happened to be he player that finished with the most points on the scoreboard. Craven had 18 points, ten rebounds, eight steals and two blocks. Junior guard Desmond Farmer had 17 points for the Trojans. Gregg Guenther had 16 points and six rebounds. Roy Smiley and Rory O'Neil finished with 13 and 12 points each. O'Neil also had five big blocks today.

Oregon's leading scorer was Luke Ridnour who went 7-17 from the floor, notching up 21 points. Andre Joseph scored 15 of his 18 points in the first half and filled in well for Luke Jackson in the starting lineup. Jackson had 17 points but only took eight shots, going 4-8 from the floor. James Davis added 12 points on 4-12 shooting from the floor, 11 of those shots coming from three point land.

Ian Crosswhite scored only four points today in 17 minutes of play. Robert Johnson was hampered with foul trouble but finished with only two points and four rebounds.

The Trojans will have another home game on February 5th against cross-town rival UCLA. USC will look to continue their winning ways while UCLA will just be looking to get a win.

Oregon will face the Stanford Cardinal on Thursday at 5:30 and will hope to get back in the win column. It is obvious that they will have to play with more intensity and desire than they exhibited today in order to do such a thing.

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