After ranking second in the preseason Pac-12 media poll and inside of the Top 25 nationally, the USC Trojans enter Thursday’s home game against the Oregon Ducks ranked last in the Pac-12 with an 8-12 record.
Oregon Ducks (-2, 149) vs. USC Trojans
The Trojans have dealt with plenty of backcourt injuries throughout conference play and just got back top scorer, Boogie Ellis, from injury, but No. 2 scorer, Isaiah Collier, has missed the past four games and figures to either be out again or playing at less than 100 percent.
As a result of these injuries, USC’s offense has failed to reach 70 points in the past five games despite accumulating over 70 points in 14 of its first 15 games of the season.
Even when USC has had its main contributors on the court, the defense has still struggled, ranking 168th in the nation in points allowed on a per-possession basis and 307th in opponent 3-point shooting percentage.
While USC is getting closer to full strength with the return of Ellis, so is Oregon with the return of big men, N’Faly Dante and Nate Bittle, after both missed at least 14 games each.
Dante leads the team in both rebounds (8.2) and blocks per game (1.5) and averages 14.8 points. In all six games he has appeared in this season, the offense has scored at least 70 points.
The added depth in the post for Oregon becomes all the bigger with USC ranking just 183rd in rebound rate and not having a single player on the roster averaging more than 4.7 rebounds per game.
Oregon is ranked 27th in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage and will be able to exploit USC’s lack of perimeter defense. With USC not getting the same production in the paint as in past seasons, ranking 293rd in 2-point shooting percentage when playing at home (48.5%), Oregon will go on the road and add yet another loss to USC’s record.
The Play: Oregon -2