Records: Oregon (15-10, 6-5 Pac-12), USC (14-12, 7-6)
Why watch? I know it may feel like a chore to watch this men’s basketball team at times. The Civil War loss hurt Oregon’s standings in the Pac-12 Conference, pushing the Ducks further away from securing a top four spot, which provides a first-round bye in the conference tournament. The loss also wilted Oregon’s slim chances of securing an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
If you need some hope, here it is; Trust in Oregon coach Dana Altman. Altman, who just moved into the NCAA’s top 30 all-time Division I coaches with 635 victories, historically leads the Ducks to more wins in the latter half of Pac-12 play. Under Altman, Oregon has a 53-22 record (.706) during the second half of Pac-12 play. Only Arizona, with 54, has won more games than Oregon in the back half of conference play during that span.
“We are 15-10 and we were hoping to be better at this stage, but we are not,” Altman said. “We need to focus in on the next six games and try to get better. Four of them are on the road, so that will not be an easy task.”
Washington sits atop the standings but there hasn’t been a Pac-12 team to prove domination thus far. Since any team can get hot in the Pac-12 tournament… Why not the Ducks?
High Flying Ducks
Freshman forward Louis King leads the Ducks in scoring with a 12.9 average this season, 16 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in Pac-12 play. He’s scored in double figures during 11 of 12 conference games.
However, the 6-foot-9 forward suffered a hand injury in Oregon’s loss to Oregon State. According to reporters present, King’s index and middle fingers on his right hand were taped when shot with that hand before Tuesday’s practice.
King sat out of Monday and Tuesday practice in hopes to rest and be ready for Wednesday’s practice, according to Altman.
If King can’t play against USC, the Ducks would again be down to eight scholarship players.
Junior guard Payton Pritchard is on record watch. With four more assists (421 current career assists), he will pass Luke Jackson (424 assists, 2000-04) for sixth in UO career assists.
Freshman Miles Norris is coming off a solid performance. He added a boost from the bench, scoring seven points and setting career highs in rebounds (5), blocks (3) and minutes (17).
Trojans to keep an eye on
Bennie Boatwright is coming off a record game in USC’s win at California. The 6-10 senior made a USC record 10 three-pointers and tied the Pac-12 single-game mark.
Wooten will have his hands full with 6-foot-11 Nick Rakocevic, the Pac-12’s leader in double-doubles. Along with his 13 double-doubles, he also has five games with 20 or more points and 10 or more rebounds, leading all Pac-12 players.
USC freshman Kevin Porter, who was suspended for the earlier meeting with the Ducks, is averaging 9.3 points per game off the bench.
Shut down the arc
Oregon’s three-point defense must be on point against the Trojans. USC is shooting 38.7 percent from three-point range this season which leads all Pac-12 teams and ranks 20th in the country.
Number to know: The last five years, Oregon is 25-4 after Valentine’s Day in Pac-12 Conference games, according to UO game notes.
How and where to watch
Time: Thursday, Feb. 21, 6:05 p.m
Where: Galen Center, Los Angeles, California