USC’s losing streak extends to six games after home loss to Oregon

The Trojans lost their sixth consecutive game while playing Oregon at home despite Ellis' 17 points. USC's season is ending sooner than expected.

LOS ANGELES — On Thursday night, the USC Trojans hosted the Oregon Ducks at the Galen Center. In an attempt to end their losing streak, Andy Enfield made some line-up changes. The Trojans had previously lost 82-74 to Oregon on December 28th. However, USC has won three out of the last four games against Oregon at the Galen Center.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

New lineup changes for the Trojans

USC has struggled this season as they entered Thursday night’s game with a five-game losing streak. However, Coach Enfield made a tactical decision to sit DJ Rodman and instead start Oziyah Sellers in their game against Oregon. This move proved to be effective as Sellers had a great first half, scoring nine points on 4 of 7 shots from the field. The decision to start Sellers was made to improve both the offense and defense, as Enfield has been searching for players who can play smart and run the floor. Sellers, a sophomore, has been improving his game and has been in excellent form lately, having scored a career-high of 18 points against Colorado a few weeks ago. He has also been successful in making 16 of his last 29 three-point shots and currently holds the highest percentage from the free throw line among the Trojans at 83.3%.

In their matchup back in December, Oregon and USC were evenly matched, but USC had Isaiah Collier available at the time. However, with Collier out this time, the Trojans still managed to put up a fight in the first half. Oregon Guard Jackson Shelstad was the star of the show, scoring an impressive 15 points on 3 for 4 from beyond the arc. He was the leading scorer for both teams heading into halftime. Unfortunately, the Trojans continue to struggle with defense, especially guarding the perimeter, which allowed the Ducks to make seven three-pointers. As a result, Oregon took a 46-39 lead at the half.

Enfield opted for a big starting lineup against Oregon, pairing Arriten Page with Joshua Morgan in the frontcourt. However, USC struggled to capitalize on this strategy. Page recorded four points, one rebound, and three blocks in the first half, while Morgan contributed four points, two rebounds, three assists, and three blocks. Unfortunately, Boogie Ellis struggled with his shooting, making only 1 of 5 from beyond the arc and scoring nine points. On the other hand, Rodman came off the bench and immediately made an impact, scoring six points, grabbing five rebounds, and dishing out one assist.

In the first half, the Ducks’ backcourt scored a total of 25 points. Jermaine Couisnard contributed 10 points and 5 rebounds, but had a 2-of-8 shooting performance. Oregon was able to make 41.2% of their shots from beyond the arc, and USC allowed them to grab nine offensive rebounds which the Ducks converted into 13 second-chance points.

Bronny James only scored three points off an open three-pointer and collected three assists after coming off the bench. He played for less than ten minutes in the half and had two steals but only one turnover. USC committed 10 personal fouls and had a total of seven turnovers, which allowed Oregon to shoot 11 of 13 from the line. Kobe Johnson has been struggling in the past few games, only scoring two points on three field goal attempts. Enfield needs to find a way to involve Johnson more in the offense early on.

USC can’t find a way to close games

Throughout the second half of the game, USC struggled to perform as some of the players, including Johnson, lost motivation on the court and allowed the game to slip away. Early in the second half, there was a pick and roll situation between Ellis and Iwuchukwu, but unfortunately, Ellis threw a bad pass which resulted in the ball going out of bounds. This led to Ellis showing his frustration on the court.

During the game, the Trojans were behind by 70-54. Coach Enfield decided to switch to his best line-up consisting of Ellis, Johnson, Rodman, Morgan, and James in an attempt to improve the team’s performance. Unfortunately, the team continued to struggle, with frequent turnovers. To address this issue, Enfield substituted Sellers and Paige for James and Johnson. The team’s inconsistency was evident, with Johnson feeling upset and disbelieving as he sat at the end of the bench.

Johnson had a poor performance in the game against Oregon, scoring only two points and shooting 1 for 8 from the field. This is not the first time he’s had a poor performance like this, which is unusual for a junior at this point in the season. Despite the team’s belief that Johnson is the best shooter on the team, he clearly did not perform well on Thursday night.

The USC defense allowed five players on the Ducks’ team to score in double digits, which is a major concern for the team moving forward. USC found it difficult to play defense without fouling, as they allowed Oregon to shoot 18 for 21 from the free throw line. While USC made all six of their free throw attempts, it was not enough to compete against Oregon.

During my pregame conversation with a team representative, I was informed that the current USC basketball team is deeply struggling and not performing well due to players not buying in. The representative mentioned that the team has had better rosters in the past but has performed better than they are now. It is a critical time for the USC basketball program, and they need to turn things around quickly. The return of Collier in a couple of weeks may give the team a much-needed boost before the end of the season. Collier was seen warming up and shooting around pregame and is improving.

USC’s bench scored a total of 24 points and had 26 points in the paint. Enfield led a big lineup throughout the game. The Trojans managed to impress everyone with their 14 blocks in the game, which it did not helped them secure a much-needed victory.

James became the key facilitator for the team, leading with seven assists. Ellis continued to be the primary scorer with six points and four rebounds. James had only one turnover in the game. Sellers managed to score nine points in the first half and only three in the second half. Rodman had four points in the first half and finished with six points in the game. Page played aggressively during his 19 minutes and finished with 8 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 blocks.

Page was asked postgame about Enfield’s comment on how all four big’s aren’t good defensive rebounders. He stopped to think for a second then he responded.

“Proving him wrong.”

Page sounded motivated to prove his coach wrong in the upcoming match up against the Beavers. Sellers and Page talked to the media after the game and seemed to be unsatisfied with having to answer questions about the current six-game losing streak. The Trojans shot 50% from the field in the first half and then shot 37.5% in the second half. The Ducks led by as much as 18-points in the second half and never looked back. USC is now 8-13 and 2-8 in conference play this season.

USC has major issues moving forward

Enfield expressed his dissatisfaction during the postgame conference by stating that he will rotate the lineup based on players who follow the game plan and play smart. It was evident that Enfield was frustrated as he deviated from his usual postgame statement and instead asked the media if they had any questions. He further stated that he was unhappy with his team’s lack of urgency in rebounding the ball and scoring efficiently against Oregon.

“For the most part, we played hard tonight,” said Enfield postgame. “Our rebounding with our four bigs, are not very good defensive rebounders, in fact, their poor.”

Coach Enfield did not hold back as he called out his team’s performance and talked about what the team needs to do in order to pick up a win.

“If our bigs rebound, they’ll play more minutes. Guys want to play, guys always blame the coaching staff when they don’t play minutes. If they want to play more minutes, they can defend and rebound.” said Enfield postgame.

USC has a lot to consider in the next 48 hours as they are set to host Oregon State at Galen Center on Saturday night. Although James had a career-high of seven assists, his overall performance could have been better, as the coach stated after the game.

“He was okay, he needs to keep getting better.” Enfield on James’ performance in the loss to Oregon.

Enfield believes that everyone on the team needs to improve. The Oregon State Beavers have a record of 11-10 and lost a game to UCLA on Thursday night. Jordan Pope has been their top scorer with an average of 17.8 points per game, making him a tough opponent for the Trojans. While USC lost 86-70 to Oregon State on December 30th, they have won 11 out of the last 16 games against the Beavers and 7 out of the last 8 games at the Galen Center.