Streaking USC faces road test at Oregon State

NCAA Men's Basketball

Surging Southern California brings its six-game winning streak into a previously postponed Pac-12 Conference matchup with Oregon State on Tuesday at Corvallis, Oregon.

The Trojans (11-2, 5-1 Pac-12) were originally set to visit the Beavers on Dec. 20, but COVID-19 protocols forced postponement to this week. As a result, Tuesday’s game is the third in five days for both teams. It is also the second consecutive three-game week for USC.

For the Trojans, it also marks both the midway point of a five-game stretch in nine days and the beginning of a three-game road swing that concludes over the weekend at Stanford and Cal.

“We’re excited to be 11-2 and 5-1 in the league,” Trojans coach Andy Enfield said following his team’s 85-77 win over Washington State on Saturday. “But we have goals to compete at a very high level. It starts Tuesday night in Corvallis.”

USC’s defensive intensity has helped carry it to a perfect January record. The Trojans rank No. 17 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency per advanced metrics, holding opponents to 40.4 percent shooting from inside the 3-point arc.

College basketball’s ninth-highest percentage of defensive possessions resulting in blocked shots contributes to USC’s defensive prowess. Standout freshman Evan Mobley — who also leads the Trojans in scoring at 16.2 points and rebounding with 8.3 per game — is averaging 3.1 blocks per game.

His older brother, and USC forward, Isaiah Mobley adds another block per game, and is also one of four Trojans averaging double-figures scoring per game in a balanced offense.

Isaiah Mobley is averaging 10.2 points per game, including a career-high 18 in Thursday’s 95-68 rout of Washington, Drew Peterson adds 11 points per game, and Tahj Eaddy is averaging 12.9 points per game after his season-high 21 against Washington State.

Oregon State (6-5, 2-3) comes into Tuesday’s matchup ranked No. 217 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, and is giving up 52.7 percent 2-point field-goal shooting. The Beavers have given up 79 points or more in their last three contests.

They won the most recent of those three games, however, edging Arizona State on Saturday 80-79, with Warith Alatishe’s dunk in the closing seconds. The win came on the heels of a 98-64 blowout loss to Arizona, and a postponed road swing through Colorado and Utah.

“You look at the focus that they’ve kept through all of this, and their behavior. They’ve been grinding,” Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said. “It’s a credit to them for responding the way they did.”

Just two Beavers are averaging in double-figures scoring, led by Ethan Thompson’s 16.1 points per game. Jarod Lucas is averaging 12.8 points per game.

Oregon State may have fewer double-figure scorers than USC, but doesn’t lack offensive balance. The Beavers are second among all Division I teams in percent of field goals set up by assists at 67.2 percent. Thompson’s 4.2 assists per game set the pace.

–Field Level Media

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