The Oregon Ducks, led by senior guard Garrett Sim, earned their third straight Pac-12 victory Thursday evening, with a hard-fought 65-62 win over the USC Trojans (5-14, 0-6 Pac-12).
Being the first home game of the New Year with classes back in session, the Oregon Pit Crew student section was almost back to full force- and the Ducks responded. Senior Garrett Sim continued his confident play, pouring in 20 points including 4 of 6 from behind the arc.
Sim set the tone for the Ducks, and for the rest of his evening, hitting a three on the first possession of the game. Olu Asholu then followed suit with a pair of layups off the bench that pushed the Ducks lead to 10-4 at 14:36 of the first half.
USC responded mightily thanks to their inside-outside tandem of point guard Maurice Jones and center Dewayne Dedmon. Jones had 22 points on the evening despite 9-of-23 from the floor, and hit a three with 5:34 left in the half to put the Trojans up 22-16. The Ducks answered back with 8 consecutive points, putting them back on top 24-22- a lead they would not relinquish for the remainder of the contest.
The second half was closely fought, yet the Ducks managed to keep their cool throughout, never allowing USC to gain enough momentum to overcome the Ducks energy. Devoe Joseph scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half, including a crucial three pointer with 2:31 remaining to put the Ducks ahead 59-54.
The Ducks shot well from the free throw line down the stretch, and shot 19 of 24 for the game including 6-for-6 performances from the line by Garrett Sim and Devoe Joseph. Olu Ashaolu also chipped in 11 points and 5 rebounds off the bench.
Though the Ducks were more efficient from the floor and outrebounded the Trojans 31-24, USC only turned the ball over 9 times compared to the Ducks' 19.
Dewayne Dedmond played very strong down low for the Trojans, scoring 18 points and pulling down a game-high 7 rebounds. The Trojans are off to their worst start in conference play since 1989 when they started 0-12.
The Ducks are back at home on Saturday afternoon against the UCLA Bruins (10-7, 3-2 Pac-12) at 1 P.M. The sell-out crowd will be energetic on Saturday as the Rose Bowl winning Ducks football team will be honored for their achievements. The Trojans head up north to take on the Oregon State Beavers (12-7, 2-5 Pac-12) on Saturday, who beat UCLA Thursday night, 87-84.