The USC men's basketball team faces #9 Oregon this Saturday, March 5, in what could be its toughest- and most important- challenge yet. A win against the Ducks proves to the doubters that USC's recent skid was nothing but a fluke, but another blowout loss and the Trojans (20-10, 9-8 in the Pac-12) will limp into the Pac-12 Tournament losing 6 of their final 8 games.
Wednesday's 81-70 win against Oregon St. provided a rare bright spot in what has been an otherwise brutal past few weeks, in which the Trojans have gone 2-5 and given up an average of 79 points.
The road ahead does not get any easier, with Oregon (24-6, 13-4) bringing a 4 game winning streak and 20-0 home record to the table. The Ducks will be led by Dillon Brooks and Chris Boucher, who leads the nation in blocked shots.
The last time these teams went head to head, the unranked Ducks came out on top, 89-81, against #21 USC. Elgin Cook was dominant in that game with 26 points, 5 boards and 4 assists. Bennie Boatwright led the Trojans with 23 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out with just over a minute to play.
This matchup comes at a pivotal time for the Trojans. It is a chance to finally build some momentum before the Pac-12 tournament and improve their seeding in March Madness, where they are currently projected to be an 8-seed according to ESPN's Joe Lunardi.
The game tips off tomorrow at 1:00 pm PST and can be seen on the Pac-12 network.