Oregon 94, USC 87, OT
LOS ANGELES (AP)—Bryce Taylor had 23 points and Maarty Leunen scored five of his seven points in the final 57.1 seconds of overtime, leading Oregon to a 94-87 victory over Southern California on Thursday night.
Malik Hairston scored 19 points for Oregon (14-12, 6-11 Pac-10). Aaron Brooks, whose career-high 34 points against the Trojans in the Ducks’ conference-opening victory at Eugene on New Year’s Eve equaled the most by any sophomore in school history, finished with 14.
The Trojans (11-17, 4-12) have lost eight of their last 10 games, and will miss the Pac-10 tournament for the first time in the eight seasons it has been held. What makes it even more frustrating for the Trojans is that the tournament will take place a couple of miles up Figueroa Street at Staples Center.
Nick Young scored 21 points and Rory O’Neill had 17 for the Trojans, who are 9-15 under interim coach Jim Saia since the firing of Henry Bibby on Dec. 6. Saia will relinquish the head coaching duties to Tim Floyd on April 1.
Oregon has beaten USC six straight times, including the title game of the 2003 Pac-10 tournament. It’s the second-longest winning streak for the Ducks against the Trojans since the schools began playing each other in 1956. Oregon beat them nine straight times between 1987 and 1991, including an opening-round matchup in the ’87 Pac-10 tournament.
Leunen gave Oregon an 87-84 lead with a 3-pointer, then added two free throws 20 seconds later. Young’s 3-pointer cut the margin to two with 24.2 seconds left, but USC’s Gregg Guenther missed a short baseline jumper with 13.2 seconds to go after Oregon’s Chamberlain Oguchi made one of two from the line.
The Ducks put it away with two free throws each from Brooks and Oguchi for the final margin, matching their biggest lead of the game.
USC trailed by five points in the final two minutes of regulation before Young hit a 12-foot jumper that got a friendly bounce off the rim and missed the ensuing free throw trying for the three-point play. But O’Neal tipped in Young’s miss, cutting Oregon’s lead to 76-75 with 1:41 left.
Brooks made one of two at the line for the Ducks, and Young’s two free throws tied it at 77-all with 40.4 seconds left. The Ducks called a timeout with 27 seconds left to set up a play, but Mitch Platt threw up an 18-foot airball with 5.1 seconds on the clock.
The Trojans inbounded after a timeout and Gebriel Pruitt dribbled the length of the court for an apparent game-winning layup, but was called for an offensive charge and fouled out after running into Leunen with 1.5 seconds left.
The Trojans had a slightly easier time in the paint against Oregon than they did the last time the Ducks visited the L.A. Sports Arena, when 7-foot center Ian Crosswhite had 22 points and a career-high 13 rebounds in Oregon’s 92-74 victory. Crosswhite was suspended for the rest of this season on Feb. 9 for violating Athletic Department policy.
The Ducks, 3-4 without Crosswhite, began their centennial season with an 9-1 record. They have to beat UCLA on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion to have a chance at qualifying for the Pac-10 tournament and a return trip to Los Angeles.