USC men’s basketball at Oregon State: What you need to know

USC at Oregon State

When: 3 p.m. Saturday

Where: Gill Coliseum, Corvallis, Ore.

TV/Radio: Pac-12 Network/AM 790

Records: USC 17-7, 9-4 in Pac-12; Oregon State 9-16, 3-11

Previous matchup: USC held on for a 63-62 win over the Beavers on Dec. 4 at Galen Center. The Trojans came back from a double-digit second-half deficit, with sophomore guard Kobe Johnson scoring five unanswered points to give the Trojans the lead with 2:25 to play.

USC latest result: The Trojans suffered their most lopsided loss of the year, a 78-60 defeat at Oregon. USC looked completely out of sorts without center Joshua Morgan (ankle) and guard Reese Dixon-Waters (leg), and completely out of character. USC is at its best when it runs in transition, but scored only three fastbreak points against the Ducks. The dip in aggression correlated with one of USC’s worst offense performances of the past month. The Trojans shot 41.1% from the floor and 25% from 3-point range while getting six points from their bench.

Oregon State latest result: The Beavers dropped their third game in a row with a 62-47 loss to No. 7 UCLA on Thursday. Oregon State was completely overwhelmed by the Bruins’ defense. Just two scorers reached double-digits, and OSU as a team shot 35.6% from the floor with four assists to 18 turnovers.

Matchup to watch: Johnson vs. Jordan Pope. Pope has been one of the few bright spots of a brutal winter for the Beavers, who have lost 10 of 12. Pope is averaging 15.2 points across the past six games and can be an explosive 3-point threat. Johnson did a good job limiting Pope the last time the teams met, holding him to 11 points on 4-for-10 shooting.

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USC trend to watch: It’s been open season in the paint against the Trojan defense since Morgan injured his ankle against Washington State. The inexperience of freshmen Vincent Iwuchukwu, Kijani Wright and Iaroslav Niagu has been readily apparent. The three forwards played 41 minutes against Oregon and were a combined minus-15 in that span. The Ducks scored 38 points in the paint while center N’Faly Dante converted 8 of 11 from the field for a team-high 17 points. Oregon State doesn’t have a clear post threat like Dante on its roster, so this would be a good game for USC’s young big men to take a step forward.

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