EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Ducks seemed relieved to finally get a quality victory.
Joseph Young scored 21 points, including a key 3-pointer that touched off a 12-0 Oregon run midway through the second half, and the Ducks soundly defeated the USC Trojans 78-66 on Saturday night.
“It’s always important to get a win,” said Jason Calliste, who finished with 18 points. “But just the way that we played was more satisfying, I guess you could say.”
Oregon (15-6, 3-6 Pac-12) led by as many as 17 points and had 16 steals, finishing just one shy of the school record. Young had a career-high six.
The Ducks had lost six of their last seven games after opening the season with 13 straight wins and climbing as high as No. 10 in the AP rankings.
Byron Wesley finished with 19 points for the Trojans (10-12, 1-8 Pac-12), who have lost three straight overall and haven’t managed to defeat the Ducks in seven straight meetings.
“They just came out and really punched us in the mouth,” Wesley said.
Sitting last in the league standings, Southern California was coming off a 76-75 loss to Oregon State on Thursday night. With the loss to the Ducks, the Trojans fall to 0-5 on the road in conference play.
USC was plagued by turnovers, finishing with a season-high 22. The Ducks kept them off-balance by pressing on defense.
“I feel like each game that we play, we’re getting better on defense,” Young said.
The Trojans jumped out to a 12-6 lead on Wesley’s jumper, but Oregon responded with a 7-0 run capped by Young’s layup and free throw to take a 13-12 lead at the halfway point of the first period.
Oregon extended the lead to 23-18 on Mike Moser’s 3-pointer.
USC tied it at 25 after Pe’Shon Howard’s 3-pointer, but the Trojans didn’t pull back in front until J.T. Terrell made a pair of free throws and Omar Araby dunked to go ahead 31-28.
Southern California led 38-34 at the break, but Young’s 3-pointer, four straight points from Calliste and Ben Carter’s layup gave Oregon a 53-44 lead with 12:02 left. Richard Amardi made a free throw and Johnathan Loyd scored a layup to complete the run that put the Ducks in command.
“They did a good job both halves on their full-court and half-court pressure and we seemed to fumble balls and dribble a few off our feet. We threw it out of bounds. Just some unusual turnovers that we usually don’t make,” USC coach Andy Enfield said.
The Ducks, coming off a 70-68 loss to UCLA on Thursday night, went into the game ranked atop the Pac-12 and fourth in the nation with an average of 85.1 points per game.
Up next for Oregon is No. 1-ranked Arizona in Tucson on Thursday. But first, the Ducks will get a little break.
“Let’s enjoy the Super Bowl and take a day off and unwind,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said.
USC hosts rival UCLA next Saturday.
The game was played on Phil Knight appreciation night at Matthew Knight Arena. All fans were given a souvenir bobblehead of the Nike co-founder, who was celebrating his 76th birthday. During a timeout, the fans serenaded their most famous booster with “Happy Birthday.”
Altman even joked about the bobblehead, given that two of the Ducks’ players were suspended for the first nine games of the season for selling team merchandise, an NCAA violation.
“Make sure the team doesn’t get any so we don’t put them on eBay,” Altman smirked, then added: “That’s the first time I’ve laughed in a month.”
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