Vucevic's Big Night Not Enough For Trojans
The Trojans were beaten by the Ducks 61-51 Saturday night at the Galen Center despite Nikola Vucevic's 22 points and 16 rebounds.
"They deserved to win the game. We didn't do enough offensively to win," coach Kevin O'Neill said. "We just didn't get it done. Credit Oregon and we should take the blame."
Vucevic's 14th double-double of the season wasn't enough as no other USC player scored in double figures.
USC had an opportunity to win back-to-back games for the first time since the turn of the new year. The Trojans defeated Oregon State Thursday night 67-56, with Vucevic scoring 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
USC hasn't won back-to-back games since beating Washington State and UCLA on New Year's Eve and January 9.
"We're all disappointed. We can't be discouraged," O'Neill said. "We have a month left of basketball and the conference tournament and who knows what else after that."
By the Numbers
- 4 - The Trojans have now lost four consecutive to the mean green Ducks, including earlier this season in the inaugural game at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene.
- 6 - Nikola Vucevic scored the first six points of the game for USC before Maurice Jones hit an NBA-range 3-pointer with the shot clock about the expire nearly seven minutes into the game.
- 15.8 - Vucevic outscored his teammates 10-9 in the first half. He also had just as many rebounds as his teammates, grabbing 16 of the team's 32 boards in the game. He had plenty of chances with the rest of the team shooting only 28.6 percent from the field, including a paltry 15.8 percent in the first half.
- 16 - Vucevic tied a career-high with 16 rebounds, seven on the offensive end. The last time he grabbed as many boards was also against the Ducks at the Galen Center -- last February 25.
- 4:38 - USC went on one of its patented scoring droughts midway through the second half going 4 minutes, 38 seconds without a field goal. Vucevic was sitting for the majority of the field-goal-less streak. Naturally, he was the one to end the run on his second possession (and first shot) after re-entering the game.
- 20 - There were only 20 free throws attempted in Saturday night's game. The Trojans attempted only 12 -- their third lowest amount this season.
- 2-7 - USC is now 2-7 this season when playing on Saturday.
- 8th - That's where the Trojans now stand in the Pac-10 standings.
Top Player: Nikola Vucevic.
Because no one else could do anything, Vucevic had to do it all. Vucevic attempted 22 of the Trojans 57 shots, making 50 percent of his field goals. No other USC player shot better than 33 percent.
To add to his 14th double-double, Vucevic also had two of the team's five steals.
"Vucevic was just great for them as always. He's really skilled, franly as good as I've ever seen for someone his size," Oregon coach Dana Altman.
"He shoots the ball really well, scored 22 points and grabbed 15 boards and that was all while our defense was in high gear and we had really prepared for him."
Unsung Hero: None.
When only one player scores in double figures and no one shoots better than 33 percent or grabs more than seven rebounds, there just isn't a player worthy of being the unsung hero.
"Step It Up:" Alex Stepheson.
With Vucevic being double and sometimes triple-teamed by Oregon's compact zone defense, someone needed to step up and help him out. Stepheson seemed like a logical choice since the senior could potentially take advantage of the weak side help coming across.
However, he got in foul trouble early and was never a factor in the game. He played only 20 minutes -- two more than freshman Garrett Jackson. He attempted only three field goals, with his only bucket coming on a tip in. He also was 1-of-3 from the free throw line to drop him below 50 percent for the season.
After scoring in double figures in nine of 11 games and collecting six double-doubles over a month and a half span from mid-November to the beginning of January, Stepheson has only one double-double and scored 10 or more points twice since January 9.
Where They Stand:
The Trojans are pretty much done. To make the NCAA Tournament, they are going to have to win the Pac-10 Tournament.
They are now only 4-6 in the 2011 calendar year and can't manage to win back-to-back games, even on their homecourt where they are now 10-4.
"Right now, everybody probably is down," Vucevic said. "It's frustrating."
It's frustrating for the players, and it's also frustrating for anyone watching the games because USC isn't currently capable of consistently playing high-quality basketball. Blame it on depth issues, fatigue or whatever else -- right now, USC just is not a quality basketball team.
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