Oregon‘s Dana Altman has accomplished plenty in his 37 years as a college basketball coach. He added a new one to his list Saturday night.
Altman’s Ducks became the first team in 46 years to knock off two top-five teams on the road within a five-day span, beating No. 5 Southern California 79-69 behind Will Richardson’s career-high 28 points.
De’Vion Harmon had 16 points and N’Faly Dante added 12 for Oregon (11-6, 4-2 Pac-12), which has won five straight, including an 84-81 win over third-ranked UCLA on Thursday.
The Ducks are the first team since Clemson in January of 1976 with two wins over top-five teams on the road in such short order, according to ESPN Stats & Information. They are the first to do it in the Pac-12.
“We needed a big week. Our guys knew that. I’ve been talking about a sense of urgency since the Baylor game and how we didn’t have any more room for error,” Altman said. “I haven’t seen anything like it, but we needed something to jump start us.”
Oregon’s Franck Kepnang (22) and Rivaldo Soares (11) react to a foul call on Southern California’s Isaiah White (5) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
The Ducks took control early and led throughout. They were up 16 at halftime and extended their lead to 18 early in the second half. USC, which was playing its third game in five days, was only able to get within nine during the final 20 minutes.
Southern California came into the game fourth nationally in field goal defense, holding opponents to 36.6% shooting. Yet the Ducks hit their first four and nine of their first 13 en route to going 29 of 58 (50%) from the floor.
“USC made a couple runs, but we were able to keep pushing, playing hard and sticking to what we do. The trust between the team has grown the past couple of months,” Harmon said.
Boogie Ellis and Isaiah Mobley led the Trojans with 18 points apiece. USC (14-2, 4-2) has dropped two of its last three after opening the season with 13 straight wins.
Richardson had five of Oregon’s 10 3-pointers as it shot 10 of 21 from beyond the arc. The Ducks also had a 34-30 advantage in points in the paint, with 14 of their 19 two-point field goals being either dunks or layups.
Oregon took control early when it went on a 13-3 run to take an 18-8 lead five minutes into the game. The Ducks hit three 3-pointers during the spurt, including two by Richardson.
Ellis hit two straight shots from beyond the arc to pull the Trojans within 32-27 with 4:01 remaining before the Ducks closed the half with a 13-2 spurt to take a 45-29 advantage. Richardson had eight points during the late run, and Eric Williams Jr. scored five.
The Ducks extended their lead to 55-37 five minutes into the second half. Chevez Goodwin got the Trojans within nine on a free throw with 4:54 remaining, but they could not draw any closer.
“Oregon played a very high level of offense in the first half. In the second half, we played better and harder, but when you’re down 16 (at halftime), it’s not easy against a quality team,” USC coach Andy Enfield said.
Oregon: The Ducks had a 6-6 record in late December but have regained their stride and could make a bid to jump back into the rankings after a strong performance this week.
“I still think we’ve got so much room to grow into. I think our execution can get so much better,” Altman said.
USC: The Trojans are likely to drop out of the top 10 after struggling in all three games. They needed a late run in the second half to beat Oregon State on Thursday. USC is 2-2 since it had a 19-day layoff due to COVID-19.
“The lack of practice hurt us, but our players have to figure it out,” Enfield said.
Oregon: Hosts Washington State on Thursday.
USC: Travels to Colorado on Thursday.