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Ducks guard Will Richardson (0) passes the ball. Ducks Men's Basketball takes on University of Colorado at Matthew Knight Stadium in Eugene, Ore., on Feb. 18, 2021. (DL Young/Emerald)

With 30 seconds to go in the first half of Oregon’s potentially conference-altering bout with USC, Trojans guard Tahj Eaddy was outscoring the entire Ducks team with 21 points to Oregon’s 20. 

Oregon men’s basketball never led in their 72-58 loss to USC in Los Angeles on Monday.

The Ducks entered the game riding high on a five-game win streak, having won their last three games by a combined nine points. Oregon is now winless in their last four road games at USC. 

In its third game in the last five days, Oregon came out flat. 

Eaddy opened the night with three consecutive three-pointers. Meanwhile, the Ducks looked timid, even scared, missing badly on touch shots around the rim and carelessly tossing passes away in traffic. USC raced out to a 15-0 lead before the Ducks scored their first point — an Eric Williams Jr. free throw with 14 minutes to go in the first half.

As the Ducks forced themselves into off-balance jumpers and contested fadeaways, USC seemingly couldn’t miss, highlighted by step back jumpers from Eaddy. 

The Trojans, who rank first in the conference and fifth in the nation in blocked shots per game, deterred a typically potent Oregon inside scoring attack. 

Oregon’s first field goal came off a Franck Kepnang hook shot with just under 12 minutes left in the half. The Ducks trailed 19-3. 

On the defensive end however, the Ducks remained active, jumping for loose balls, picking off errant passes and closely contesting shots around the rim. Oregon even forced USC into a three-minute scoring drought, but botched opportunities to score off of turnovers.

Williams Jr.’s nine first-half points gave Oregon hope, but after a scorching hot shooting half for the Trojans, the Ducks trailed by 21 at the break.

Desperately in need of a run, the Ducks got anything but that; a defensive foul, a Trojans layup inside and a turnover. USC led 48-24. 

The Ducks had their chances, but couldn’t capitalize. A monstrous block in transition from Eugene Omoruyi resulted in an easy USC putback; a no-look bounce pass from Ducks guard Jalen Terry led to a missed up and under from Williams Jr.; a four-on-one run-out ended in an Oregon turnover after Will Richardson’s pass bounced off the back of Omoruyi. 

Ducks forward LJ Figueroa — who tied Williams Jr. with a team-high 14 points — hit four threes, all of which came in the second half. His 4-6 performance from beyond the arc, combined with energetic minutes from freshmen Kepnang and Terry, pushed Oregon within 10 after a nine-to-one run with six minutes remaining in the second half. 

Oregon’s comeback fell short as USC controlled the boards — even without an injured Isaiah Mobley, the team’s second-leading rebounder — securing a 40-27 advantage in rebounds. 

The Ducks’ full-court press drastically slowed the Trojans’ offense, but well-timed escape passes ended in easy finishes for USC on the other end. 

Altman’s squad finished with 11 steals, turned the ball over just 10 times to USC’s 16 and even kept Mobley in check with 11 points and five rebounds, but in the end, Eaddy’s game-high 24 points and USC’s overwhelming first half proved insurmountable. 

The Ducks have two days of rest before they face Stanford on the road on Thursday, Feb. 25. The game will be their fourth in just one week. After adding four games to their schedule, the Ducks have five games left before they head to Las Vegas for the Pac-12 tournament. 

Sports Desk Editor

Shane Hoffmann is a writer from Ann Arbor, Michigan. He writes about the intersection of culture and sports, the climate, food, travel and more. In his free time he enjoys watching and playing sports, especially basketball as well as cooking.