A Tale of Three Halves
O.J. Mayo got off to a slow start in the first half (five points) and Davon Jefferson was hampered by foul trouble all game. Not to worry, as Daniel Hackett (6-8/26 pts) and Dwight Lewis (8-14/24 pts) stepped onto the court and helped lead the Trojan basketball squad to victory.
This game had as many twists and turns as Highway 101 leading up to the Oregon coast. The Trojans have shown promise of late, getting off to early leads and not having to play catch-up, which can take its toll, especially on the road in a hostile environment such as McArthur Court can be for visiting teams.
Slow First Half
USC's sizzling start went: dunk, dunk, dunk, three-point field goal, lay-up, three-point play, three point three-point field goal. This got the Trojans off to an easy 17-8 lead, and it looked like it was going to be an easy night. The teams traded baskets before the Trojans missed 6 shots, allowing the Ducks to get back in the game, clawing their way to a 25-20 deficit at the half.
Stuck at 25-20, this one looked like it would end up being one of the lowest point totals of the season for both teams.
Second Half's a Different Story
The Trojans came out smoking again to start the second half. Going six-for-six, the lead quickly grew to 40-28. The lead remained steady hanging around a 10-point margin for most of the half.
Mayo's shooting improved in the second half; he had 20, to bring his total to 25 on the game. USC started to pull away, going up by as much as 14 points with a little more than seven minutes to play. The Ducks hung around and battled and got the lead down to 10 points with less than 2:30 to go in the game. With the score at 49-39, Mayo sunk a three point shot to up the lead to 52-39 and the end was just in sight. The game appeared to be headed toward a good hard-fought win for the Trojans.
Oregon persevered and kept whittling away at the lead eight points, six, then five, again seven points. The Ducks would just not go away. With 1:26 left in regulation, Davon Jefferson committed his fifth foul and was led to the bench. In the waning moments of the second half, Oregon trimmed the deficit to five, and then three, down to 2 points with two seconds left in regulation. In an out-of-bounds play under the basket, Oregon's Bryce Taylor threw in a lay-up to tie the game with no time left on the clock. The score was knotted at 74-74.
Overtime: The Tale of a Third Half
The Trojans appeared weary for the overtime period. Taj Gibson had 4 fouls, Jefferson fouled out and Mayo was battling cramps. Oregon appeared to have the momentum.
In an unlikely finish to a game that saw the Trojans squander a 13-point lead with just minutes remaining in regulation. These same Trojans caught fire. They scored 21 points on five-of-five three point shooting and six free throws.
USC seized control on route to a 95-86 victory, in a game that was much closer than the final tally would indicate.
Look Who's Knocking at the Door
This was a great win for USC, in overtime, in the hostile confines of McArthur Court. After a sluggish 0-3 start in the conference, the Trojans have dialed up four straight victories against very tough opponents. The young USC team is slowly evolving into the team everyone expected at the start of the season.
Up Next: Arizona, Thursday, January 31, 7:30 p.m. PST at the Galen Center.
Daniel Hackett, drives to the hoop ahead of Oregon guard Kamyron Brown (AP Photo/Don Ryan)
Taj Gibson, middle, shoots between Churchill Adia, left, and Maarty Luenen (AP Photo/Don Ryan)
Malik Hairston, left, drives on Dwight Lewis during the first half (AP Photo/Don Ryan)
O.J. Mayo pumps his fist in celebration towards the end of their 95-86 overtime win against Oregon (AP Photo/Don Ryan)