Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
JT Terrell's 22 points weren't enough for USC (7-11, 2-3) to get over the hump in interim head coach Bob Cantu's debut. The Trojans couldn't get a last second basket falling 76-74 to No. 21 Oregon (15-2, 4-0) Thursday night at the Galen Center.
-- BREAKING IT DOWN --
Key moment(s): Missed opportunities. Down by two points, USC called a timeout with 22.7 seconds remaining. After the initial play broke down, Jio Fontan got an open look at a 3-pointer from the right wing that bounced off the front rim. Eric Wise got the first chance at a putback but rushed his shot and missed it too hard off the glass.
Dewayne Dedmon grabbed the ball under the basket and pivoted out to the left side of the rim, but his baby hook shot came off on the left side. Wise had the final attempt on a tip that wouldn't go down either. The ball bounced off three or four hands before Arsalan Kazemi wound up with it.
USC finished the game on a 9-1 run after falling behind by double digits for the first time in the game with 2:57 remaining, but the Trojans needed one more bucket from Fontan, Wise or Dedmon. Yet another missed opportunity in a season already full of them.
Player of the game: EJ Singler. In the second half, Oregon's veteran leader carried his team. Singler scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half on 5-of-9 shooting. He also dished out five of his seven assists in the second half. The final 11 minutes were all Singler. He assisted or scored the Ducks final six field goals and all but one field goal in the last 11 minutes. His dagger 3-pointer to put Oregon up 10 with 2:57 remaining proved to be the difference in the game.
Most Spectacular Play: Terrell with the four-pointer. Give Bob Cantu plenty of credit for implementing some new wrinkles in the USC attack despite only two full days with as the new leader. One of those new wrinkles was on inbounds plays. The Trojans got open looks every time they inbounded the ball following a timeout. Maybe it was just Oregon being unfamiliar, but one of Cantu's plays produced the most spectacular play of the game -- a JT Terrell four-point play.
Underneath its own basket, USC had Terrell inbound the ball. Once the ball got to Fontan at the top of the key, Terrell got a good screen from Omar Oraby, who pinned Terrell's defender high. Terrell was able to slide into the deep corner where he received a pass from Fontan and tickled the twine with a high-arching 3-pointer.
Oraby's man, Austin Waverly, reacted to the play too slowly and when he launched his 6-foot-11 body to try to block the shot, he clipped Terrell, knocking him backward into the USC bench. Terrell made the free throw to complete the four-point play.
Unsung Hero: JT Terrell. Now this, this is the JT Terrell everyone thought USC was getting when he transferred in from Wake Forest by way of Peninsula JC. He got off to a hot start making three of his first four shots, including a pair of 3-pointers. He finished the first half with 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting on his was to 22 points.
Of the 12 shots Terrell took, only one or two could have been considered questionable. While some of the shots were contested, he did a great job shooting in the rhythm of his dribble and squaring his shoulders rather than shooting shots leaning and fading as was a problem early in the season. If Terrell can build on this game, he could be the threat we believed he could be before the season.
"Step It Up:" What are you doing?? One of Terrell's four 3-pointers came on USC's final shot of the first half. With less than 10 seconds on the clock, Terrell shaked and shimmied and then pulled up from the top of the left wing. Oregon quickly inbounded the ball and pushed it forward.
Just a step inbounds along the sideline, Carlos Emory rose up to shoot a shot about four feet behind the three-point line before the buzzer could sound. Terrell flashed across Emory's face as he jumped by him, but redshirt senior Renaldo Woolridge made a freshman mistake coming down across the ball, hitting Emory's left hand and right wrist.
The referees correctly blew the whistle as the horn went off, calling a shooting foul and sending Emory to the line for three free throws. He made two of the three and wouldn't you know it...that ended up being the Ducks' exact margin of victory.
Key stat: 15 offensive rebounds. Cantu's decision to push the ball for a more uptempo game may have hurt the Trojans on the defensive end. Rather than having everyone crash the boards and getting the ball to Fontan to bring up at a slower pace, USC's guards spread to the wings quicker than usual. However, with the guards trying to get into transition for easier baskets, Oregon was able to slam the offensive glass for 15 extra opportunities, leading to 11 second-chance points.
It's hard to immediately switch styles of play and there are going to be hiccups along the way. This might be something the Trojans will do better throughout the season as they get more practice in this style of play.
Quote of the Night: USC interim head coach Bob Cantu:
"Obviously, it's been a tough week, but I'm proud of the fact the guys competed and fought there."
Sideline Strategy: There will be plenty of trial and error in Cantu's run as the Trojans interim head coach over the remainder of the season. In his first trial, Cantu passed with flying cardinal and gold. Cantu stuck with the same starting lineup, but went with a different bench rotation.
Cantu stuck with the starters for the majority of the game (only Dewayne Dedmon played less than 30 minutes). The seemingly forgotten Ari Stewart played nine minutes and grabbed four rebounds. Woolridge also saw the court in the first half for three minutes.
The losers in the bench rotation, for the night at least, were Aaron Fuller and Brendyn Taylor. Fuller played seven minutes less than his 16.2 minute season average while Taylor didn't get in the game after playing in nine of the last ten games.
One questionable rotation move came right before the four-minute mark in the second half. With the final media timeout approaching, Cantu sat Dedmon and Byron Wesley. It's usually a good idea to get your players right before a media timeout to give them even more time to catch their breath. However, Cantu didn't immediately sub them back in after the timeout. Instead, Dedmon and Wesley didn't get back in the game until there was 2:41 remaining. Oregon had a 5-2 advantage during the span between the media timeout and when the starters returned
As mentioned in the Most Spectacular Play, Cantu did a nice job of drawing up plays coming out of timeouts. Every time the Trojans had that opportunity, they came away with an open look. It will be interesting to see if Cantu can continue giving looks the opposition isn't prepared for.
Where They Stand: USC is sitting right in the middle of the Pac-12 at 2-3. The Trojans host Oregon State on Saturday at 5 p.m. Oregon State enters on a four-game losing streak -- all in conference play.