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USC Unable to Overcome Early Deficit, Drops Ninth Straight in Loss to Oregon

The Ducks raced out to a 25-11 start and held off a late Trojan rally to seal their 10th straight victory in the series.

Joseph Young proved to be too much with 26 points.
Joseph Young proved to be too much with 26 points.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Joseph Young exploded for 26 points to lead the Oregon Ducks over the USC Trojans, 80-75, on Wednesday night at the Galen Center in Los Angeles. In the process, the Ducks handed the Trojans their ninth straight loss overall and their tenth consecutive in the series. Five of USC's nine losses have come by five points or less. Oregon shot 57.6 percent from the field, in large part because they got whatever they wanted in transition, mostly uncontested layups.

The Ducks stormed out of the gate and caused USC to burn three timeouts in the first half, the final one coming after a Jordan Bell dunk put them up 25-11 with 8:18 to go. The Trojans did settle in after that, though, and cut their halftime deficit to just eight. USC missed 11 of its first 13 field-goal attempts.

It was USC who came out on fire in the second half, as they went on a 14-6 run over the first 3:11 to tie the game at 41. The Ducks responded immediately by scoring the next seven points, all seven coming from Young. They eventually built the lead back to 13 with 8:59 to go, but USC fought back once again.

The Trojans turned up the defensive pressure in the final minutes and caused Young to commit four of his six turnovers down the stretch. Two straight buckets by Julian Jacobs cut Oregon's lead to 76-73 with 1:11 left. After another Ducks' turnover and a timeout, Kahlil Dukes shot an ill-advised 3-pointer early in the shot clock and Oregon hit all four of its free throws in the closing seconds to seal the game.

Julian Jacobs paced the Trojans with 18 points (8-for-12 FG), six rebounds, and six assists. The sophomore was tasked with much of the ball handling duties after starting point guard Jordan McLaughlin was forced to depart with a left shoulder injury about midway through the second half.

Head coach Andy Enfield said after the game that McLaughlin's status is unknown at this time. Dukes, who scored a season-high with eight points, and Chass Bryan (one point) were forced to play their most extended minutes of the season in McLaughlin's absence. Strahinja Gavrilovic also sat out with an illness.

When McLaughlin was in the game, he and Katin Reinhardt struggled, as the backcourt pair combined to shoot 7-for-23 and score 16 points. They were a combined 1-for-9 from 3-point range. Darion Clark had 12 points and seven rebounds and sunk all four of his free throw attempts. USC's leading scorer Nikola Jovanovic had 11 points, but only took eight shots and one free throw, as the Trojans struggled to find him inside against Oregon's pressure defense. Malik Martin put up seven points and five rebounds off the bench.

Elgin Cook and Dillon Brooks scored 15 points apiece for the Ducks to join Young in double figures. Cook also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out six assists. Bell had eight points off the Oregon bench, which was outscored by USC's second unit 18-10.

The Ducks have now won four in a row and six of their last seven, after starting conference play 2-3. They improve to 18-7 overall, 8-4 in the Pac-12, and sit alone in third place in the conference. USC falls to 9-15 and 1-11. The Trojans host Oregon State on Saturday, while the Ducks travel to face UCLA.