January 20, 2013 by Max Meyer
By Max Meyer
USC was a five-point favorite coming into this game, and they played worthy of that spread in the first half. However, they blew a double-digit second-half lead and had to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in the end. Here are a couple of my takes from the game:
One Thing I Liked: USC’s Efficient Shooting… Especially In The First Half
When Oregon State played man-to-man defense against USC, the Trojans took advantage. They shot 51.7 percent in the first half. Their faster pace on offense and great ball movement led the way to 39 first-half points.
However, the reason why Oregon State was able to get back into the game were their halftime adjustments on defense. They switched to a 1-3-1 zone defense, and it forced USC into several turnovers and bad shots at the beginning of the second half. In order to beat that kind of zone defense, an offense has to have forward ball movement. USC made several cross-court high-arcing passes that resulted in turnovers, instead of passing the ball to open players underneath the basket.
USC shot 49.1 percent from the field for the game, and that was with JT Terrell (4 of 13) having a subpar night. Byron Wesley and Eric Wise were the two leading scorers for the Trojans, and shot a combined 14 of 25 from the field. In fact, seven of the 10 players made at least half of their shots. The only spot on the court where USC didn’t shoot well was beyond the three-point line (26.7 percent).
One Thing I Didn’t Like: Omar Oraby’s Soft Play
Oraby got the start against Oregon State, but after this game there has to be some questions about his role in the rotation. Big men James Blascyzk and Aaron Fuller played more minutes than they usually do, simply because of how ineffective Oraby was. The biggest slap in the face was how Fuller got to play the final minutes over Oraby after Dewayne Dedmon fouled out.
The 7’2″ center was supposed to be an inside force for USC this season. Instead, he hasn’t taken advantage of his size and has struggled to even rebound the ball lately. Oraby hasn’t had five rebounds in a game since January 3rd, and has had one double-digit rebounding game this entire season.
In this game especially, Oraby was invisible on the court. That’s especially hard to accomplish when you’re a seven-footer. He only took two shots, and would mostly stand around the paint during USC’s offensive possessions. Even when Oraby was open under the basket with Oregon State was running their zone defense, USC was reluctant to give him the ball. He just seemed disinterested on that side of the court. USC tried to give him the ball with less than a minute to go with the game on the line (the dumbest USC possession of the game, and that’s saying something). It promptly resulted in a turnover, as Oraby made a weak effort to grab the ball before it went out of bounds.
On defense, Oraby was mostly matched with Oregon State big man Joe Burton. While Burton weighs 295 pounds, Oraby still had a good seven inch advantage on this matchup. Yet, Burton would continually beat Oraby to the hoop and destroy him physically. Oraby was a liability on both sides of the ball, and he could be the first person in Coach Cantu’s doghouse very soon.
1. Point guard Jio Fontan had ten turnovers. Ten! He had seven of them in the second half due to Oregon State’s constant zone pressure. I still have no idea how USC won this game with their starting point guard giving the ball away so often.
2. A game after JT Terrell scored his season-high in points, Byron Wesley achieved the same feat. The sophomore guard, who averages 9.3 points per game, put up 19 in this game.
3. Ari Stewart may have shot only 1 of 4 and scored two points, but it could be something to build upon. Why? Stewart hadn’t scored a single point since he scored nine against San Diego State on November 25th. So congratulations Ari, on your first basket in 2013!
4. Also congratulations to coach Bob Cantu on his first win as USC head coach. The Trojans seem to be playing harder under Cantu, and have certainly been a lot more fun to watch.