Just a couple of hours after Oregon let a nine-point lead get away in the final minute of Thursday’s overtime loss to UCLA, USC also lost a lead in the final seconds of regulation before losing in overtime at Oregon State.
“It was kind of who responded best and came back,” Oregon men's basketball coach Dana Altman said after the Ducks defeated USC 81-60 Sunday night in front of 8,148 at Matthew Knight Arena.
The Ducks did that from start to finish as they never trailed against the Trojans and stretched their lead throughout the second half. Oregon (10-6, 1-2 Pac-12) avoided dropping its first three Pac-12 games at home and took some positive thoughts into its first conference road trip to the Arizona schools.
“The message was that things happen and you have to respond,” said UO forward Paul White, noting that Altman recited a few different quotes to make that point. “He was driving home the message that NBA guys have to deal with this all the time. After a tough loss you have to get right back up and swing away.”
White tied his career high with 19 points on 6-for-12 shooting, including 3-of-5 three-pointers. He has matched or exceeded his season high in points during three straight games while averaging 16.7 points in conference games.
“I’ve always known I can play,” said White, who has boosted his season scoring average to 10.4. “I think it is more about assuming a different role for this team. I’m willing to do whatever the team needs. My game has been coming to me and I’m not trying to force anything.”
The 6-foot-9 senior has played inside more often for the Ducks following injuries to Bol Bol and Kenny Wooten, and had two blocks, one shy of his season total entering the game, to go with five rebounds.
“I thought he was solid in all aspects,” Altman said of White. “He took another charge so he set a great tone out there. It is good to have him there with Francis (Okoro) and Miles (Norris) because he can help those guys out.”
Louis King had 19 points on 8-for-13 shooting while leading the Ducks with eight rebounds and six assists. Will Richardson added 11 points while Victor Bailey added 10.
Oregon shot 55.8 percent from the field, including 54.2 on three-pointers, as both those numbers were the second-best mark of the season for the Ducks.
“I think it is just finding the open guy,” Bailey said. “All of us can hit shots so it is a matter of hitting the open guy.”
Bailey was one of seven different Ducks to make a three-pointer and each of those players shot at least 42 percent from behind the arc.
“I like to see us sharing the ball like that,” Altman said. “It is the first time in a long time we shot the ball well. I thought our ball movement was better.”
Oregon was outrebounded in each of its previous four games and was minus-23 on the boards in its first two conference games, but had a 35-24 advantage against the Trojans with Okoro matching his season high with six.
USC (9-8, 2-2) was without 6-6 freshman Kevin Porter for disciplinary reasons and then forward Nick Rakocevic, who leads the conference in rebounding, picked up two fouls in the first four minutes that limited him to 11 points and three rebounds in 22 minutes.
“We had a hard time stopping him with that jump hook and he drove it at us,” Altman said. “The two quick fouls definitely hurt his aggressiveness.”
With Rakocevic on the bench, Oregon scored 10 straight points to pull ahead 26-13. White stretched the margin to 36-21 before USC scored the final seven points of the first half.
Bailey opened the second half with a layup and White added another three-pointer. King made a three-pointer to put Oregon up 51-33 and Miles Norris added a three-pointer to stretch the lead to 19 points before Ehab Amin’s three-pointer gave the Ducks a 64-43 lead.
“We finished out a little better than we have in the past,” Bailey noted.