Trojans get Plucked in Pac-10 final

I had a running diary all set to go in this space. I trashed it five minutes into the second half. If you really want to know what it said, here's the Cliff's Notes version. "The Trojans look stagnant on offense and eventually miss a close-range shot. The Ducks grab the rebound, run the floor and hit a three pointer."

Now multiply that by 40 with the name Bryce Taylor thrown in more than occasionally. Seriously.

There's really no way to talk about this game rationally. And what's more, there's no reason to.

The Trojans were playing their third game in three days. The first game extended into overtime and the second finished at nearly 11 p.m. Friday. In fact, the Trojans didn't get out of the arena until well past midnight Saturday. Both games required so much energy from the Trojans as a team, to not expect them to be dragging was wishful thinking.

Truthfully, there's nothing that the Trojans can take from this game, positively or negatively.

It wouldn't be a stretch to say that USC might never again run into a team that will shoot as well as Oregon was shooting Saturday afternoon.

The Ducks' starters shot nearly 64 percent from the floor on 44 shots. Oh yeah, they also banged home 13 three-pointers and hit from long range at nearly a 60 percent clip. Don't even worry about the fact that they went five-of-eight from the free throw line.

Bryce Taylor finished the game with 32 points on 11-of-11 shooting. Nick Young, Taj Gibson, Gabe Pruitt and Dwight Lewis combined to make 12 shots. Lodrick Stewart, Nick Young and Taj Gibson were the Trojans' leading scorers. They combined for 30 points.

There was a six-minute span in the second half where the Ducks connected on nine consecutive shots. The Trojans' only offense during that span was Nick Young's breakaway dunk.

Taylor was simply unstoppable and the fact that he and the rest of his teammates could not miss had a huge psychological effect on the Trojans. How can you run an offense with the nagging thought in the back of your mind that if you don't score, you're going to fall even further behind?

Trying to come up with ways that the Trojans could have hung in that game is a disservice to how well Oregon played. This game reminded me of USC's football demolition of Arkansas during the 2005 season. That Trojan team wasn't 53 points better than the Razorbacks. But on that night, the Trojans could do absolutely no wrong.

This Ducks team isn't 24 points better than the Trojans. The regular season proved that, if anything, the Trojans are the better team. But sometimes you run into teams that have everything clicking.

And on days like Saturday, you just have to take your beating and move on.

This game doesn't mean anything in terms of the Trojans' chances in the NCAA Tournament. Well, I guess it means that if they run into a team in the first round that shoots 60 percent from the field and hits 14 three pointers, they'll go home early. You know what other team you can say that about? All of them.

Sure, it would have been nice to see USC put something together on the offensive end or at least finish some of their easier shots, but the fatigue factor was simply too much to overcome.

Again, it all came down to running into the buzz saw that was the Oregon Ducks shooting.

It's now time for the Trojans to shift their focus to the NCAA Tournament. Heck, it would have been fine to shift their focus during halftime. It wouldn't have made a bit of difference during those final 20 minutes.

All the credit goes to Oregon for a completely dominating victory. I had an opening line about duck hunting all ready to go in the event of a Trojan victory. I guess now we found out what happens when the Ducks are doing the shooting.

Erik McKinney is a columnist for WeAreSC.com and he can be reached at erik.mckinney@gmail.com.


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