February 27, 2014 by Jacob Freedman
By Jacob Freedman
After trailing by double digits for almost the duration on Thursday night, USC made a late push to cut Oregon State’s lead to five before succumbing down the stretch, 76-66. The Trojans trailed by as much as 26 in the second half before a flurry of points, led by 18 second-half points from J.T. Terrell, made things interesting even after a large portion of the Galen Center had filed off into the night. “I was disappointed in the first half, but they played great to come back,” head coach Andy Enfield said. “We ran out of time and energy in the final minutes.”
Terrell, Quite Swell
Terrell had a season-high 21 points, 18 of those coming in a second half where USC outscored Oregon State 46-33. He had 14 of his season-high 18 attempts in the second half, and keyed the Trojans’ 12-1 run over a 3:17 stretch starting at the five-minute mark. “The most impressive thing is that he didn’t have any turnovers,” Enfield said. “As long as JT doesn’t take bad shots and turn the ball over like this, he should play. You can’t take him out when he plays like this.
What Happens At Halftime…
When asked what he said to the team at halftime, Enfield responded: “that’s between the team and our coaching staff.” And when asked if he expressed his displeasure with his players after a first half that saw USC trailing 43-20 at the intermission, he said “I think they knew.”
Instead, the motivational speech duty was given to quiet center D.J. Haley, who delivered his teammates a message at the break. “It was that we’re family. We stick together, play hard, and there’s things you can and can’t control; we need to focus on things we can control,” Haley recalled from his words. Haley had six points and two rebounds in 16 minutes.
USC didn’t just trip out of the gate; they fell flat on their faces. The Trojans made just one field goal in the game’s first nine minutes, and unsurprisingly found themselves trailing 17-3 just 7:29 into the contest. Players seemed motionless off the ball on offense, with few cuts and even fewer open shots being created in the opening half. Despite having what Enfield called a “terrific” practice week, the Trojans shot just 29 percent from the floor in the first half as Haley and Omar Oraby struggled to contain Beavers center Angus Brandt, who had 11 points in the half.
The biggest difference between this Trojans team and the one conference win squad of 2011-12 was that Kevin O’Neill’s squad was battered by injuries. These Trojans… not so much. However, guard Brendyn Taylor was in street clothes Thursday night after injuring his knee against Stanford. No word yet on his timetable to return, but with 4, maybe 5 games left this season, a two-week sideline could mean he’s out for the rest of the year. We should know soon.
Unlike most USC games, the Trojans excelled in the final seven minutes, actually outscoring the Beavers by seven points in that final stretch. Still, Pe’Shon Howard reflected post-game on how the Trojans struggle down the stretch, a tendency behind them only having one Pac-12 win. “I think for the majority of the Pac-12 season, we’ve been one of the best teams in the conference for 32 or 33 minutes,” he said. “For that last seven minutes, we’ve been one of the worst teams in the conference. Everybody gets away from motion, we start taking wild shots, and get away from purpose.”
Senior Day is at 1 pm on Saturday, as USC hosts the Oregon Ducks. The Ducks are coming off a thrilling double overtime victory over UCLA Thursday night, and need this win to boost their NCAA Tournament hopes. The Trojans of course, hope to play spoiler.