Trojans Trample No. 22 Oregon, 91-76
By BETH HARRIS
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES - It was close for a while and sloppy all the way.
Errick Craven had 18 points and 10 rebounds and Gregg Guenther added a career-high 16 points in his first start of the season as Southern California beat No. 22 Oregon 91-76 on Sunday, ending the Ducks' five-game winning streak.
The Ducks had 26 turnovers - six by Luke Ridnour - to USC's 23, and got outrebounded 45-28. The Trojans went with a starting lineup featuring the 6-foot-8 Guenther and 6-11 Rory O'Neil, which helped them outscore Oregon 42-24 in the paint.
'We knew they were not as good rebounding,' Craven said. 'We emphasized the big guys and that won the game for us. Gregg Guenther played tremendously for us. We don't have to force shots when the big men are playing well.'
Oregon's big men, Robert Johnson and Ian Crosswhite, were in foul trouble and neither had more than four rebounds.
'Gregg Guenther gives us a really solid inside presence. That opens it up for other guys to get open shots,' USC coach Henry Bibby said. 'I told the kids there's two things you have to do every game, first is to play defense and second you have to rebound. I thought we did a very good job of that. We kept them from getting some easy baskets they normally would get.'
These teams have a history of close games at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, where they had split six previous meetings over the last six years. Each of those games was decided by five points or less.
'SC has been a pretty good team. They've been in every ballgame. They could very easily be 9-0 right now. They've lost a lot of close games,' Oregon coach Ernie Kent said. 'They certainly came at us with a lot of energy.'
The Trojans (8-9, 4-5 Pac-10) had lost three straight and five of their last six, including an 83-74 loss to Oregon State on Thursday. After a back-and-forth first half, they never trailed in the final 20 minutes - the Ducks got no closer than two points early in the half.
'We were ready to play and we wanted it badly. We were sick of losing,' Guenther said. 'We were due for a win and we really wanted it. We've always played every game hard, but sometimes you have those kind of nights.'
Oregon (15-5, 5-4) was led by Ridnour with 21 points and Andre Joseph with 18.
'We committed too many turnovers early on and dug ourselves a hole,' Ridnour said. 'USC came out with a lot of intensity. It was a must-win for them and they got it done. It was a must-win for us and we didn't get it done.'
Luke Jackson added 15 points despite again playing with a taped sore right hand. He was cut against Washington on Jan. 23 and missed two games before returning Thursday and scoring 27 points against UCLA in a 96-91 overtime win.
'This team shut down mentally. Twenty turnovers in the first half and I think they only had a hand on about five of those. The rest of them were just bad decision-making, bad timing, bad passes,' Kent said. 'It was very simple to see if we take those turnovers and make them into 20 3s where we would have been in the game, but mentally we were not there to do that.'
Guenther and Desmon Farmer combined to score USC's first 16 points of the second half and give the Trojans their largest lead to that point, 56-45.
Guenther had a free throw and two consecutive baskets, and Farmer hit two 3-pointers, got fouled attempting another and made all three free throws. Farmer finished with 17 points.
During the scoring spurt, O'Neil had three blocked shots against Johnson and Crosswhite as the Ducks' offense sputtered. O'Neil finished with 12 points, a career-high 12 rebounds and five of USC's seven blocks.
The Trojans had 14 steals, including a career-high eight by Craven.
Oregon closed within four points on a 3-pointer by Ridnour, but Jackson committed his third foul against O'Neil, who made the first free throw and missed the second. The Trojans grabbed the rebound and fed O'Neil, who sank the jumper for a 69-62 lead with 9:16 left.
James Davis hit a 3-pointer and the Ducks trailed by six. O'Neil got fouled, made both free throws, then scored on a tip-in, and Robert Hutchinson converted a fast-break layup off a long pass before Farmer hit a jumper for a 79-67 lead with 4:07 remaining.
'We just didn't bring it today and we can't afford to do that on the road,' Ridnour said. 'We have to block out and get rebounds. USC hit some tough shots to keep the lead and the momentum.'
Bibby said forward Jerry Dupree missed a treatment for his sore right foot Saturday, so he was kicked out of practice. He didn't return for treatment later, so Bibby told him not to attend Sunday's game. The coach said Dupree would be allowed back Monday.