Chris Duarte stole the game from USC, setting an arena record with eight steals and pouring in 30 points to clinch a hard fought 79-70 victory. Duarte and the Ducks are used to overtime games at this point, coming off an overtime win against Washington on Saturday and are 4-1 in overtime games on the season.
Duarte was phenomenal — he jumped passing lanes and ran full tilt toward the basket for the layup. One play he and Payton Pritchard mobbed USC at half court which led to an alley-oop dunk by Duarte. In another play he grabbed the ball as USC tried to throw the ball inbounds. His pass deflections, which may not show up in the stat sheet, were nonetheless crucial. Duarte’s length and speed was too much to handle.
“I was watching the point guard’s eyes. I was watching everyone’s eyes, so I knew when they were going to pass the ball.” Duarte said.
Oregon seemed to have wrapped up the game with USC midway through the second half. With eight minutes remaining, the Ducks were up 56-47. However, with only two minutes left in the second half, the Trojans took a 59-58 lead. But once again, Pritchard hit a clutch layup to tie the game and a Duarte steal gave the Ducks a chance to get the game-winning shot, but a miss by Richardson forced overtime.
Overtime opened with yet another Duarte steal, but Pritchard missed a go-ahead midrange jumper to force Oregon’s first double overtime of the season. Duarte recorded his final two steals of the game in double overtime and Oregon ran away with the game. Duarte hit a 3-pointer to put the Ducks up 74-68, and his layup on the next possession sealed the victory.
“Shout out to Payton for giving me that pass,” Duarte said. “I was able to knock it down.”
The Ducks have struggled to put opponents away this season and the trend continued on Thursday night. Oregon’s free-throw percentage was woeful in the first half, going 3-7. USC went 9-11 from the line in the first half, effectively keeping the Trojans in the game.
“Not ideal,” head coach Dana Altman said. “We’ve won four overtime games in a row. Right now we're trying to get a rhythm in our rotation. Anything we can grind out right now we’ll take.”
At times, Oregon took its foot off the gas pedal and allowed the Trojans to mount an 11-0 run that nearly cost Oregon the game. USC’s leading scorer was Onyeka Okongwu with 23 points and 14 rebounds. Okongwu was able to bully Oregon down low and was able to score on dunks and layups in the paint.
“We had some really bad turnovers, a couple of bad possesions,” Altman said. “We were lucky we were able to stabilize our defense and get some stops.”
Pritchard made history becoming the first Pac-12 player to score 1500 points, 600 assists and 500 rebounds. He scored 24 points against USC.
Oregon will close out its home stand against UCLA on Sunday.