Metu’s layup with 0.8 left wins it for USC, 72-70
LOS ANGELES (AP) When it came down to the final seconds in a tie game, USC coach Andy Enfield said he wanted his best players to handle the ball to give the Trojans a chance to snap their three-game losing streak.
And USC’s two best players did exactly that.
”You always want to put the ball in the hands of your best players at the end of a game,” Enfield said. ”You want to give your players the best chance to succeed and tonight we did that. On the last play, it was one heck of an option. Chim is so athletic, I thought he was going to dunk at first but he laid it in. It was good to win a game like this after we’ve lost two games like that in the last two weeks.”
Metu scored 18 points and had 10 rebounds to record his ninth double-double of the season. Jonah Mathews led USC (18-9, 9-5 Pac-12 Conference) with 20 points, including tying a career-high with five 3-pointers. Elijah Stewart added 12 and McLaughlin had 11 points with 11 assists.
Mike McIntosh scored a season-high 23 points and Payton Pritchard added 17 for the Ducks (17-9, 7-6).
With 1:24 to play and trailing 68-67, Metu pulled down an offensive rebound and passed to Stewart who drilled a 3-pointer to give the Trojans a 70-68 lead. On the following possession, McIntosh was called for an offensive foul but Metu missed both free throws with 31 seconds to play.
Troy Brown tied the game at 70 with a basket with 17 seconds remaining. After a timeout, McLaughlin took the inbounds pass, dribbled around the right wing and threw a perfect alley-oop to Metu who laid it in for the lead.
Paul White’s 3-point shot at the buzzer was off the mark.
”I knew they were going to double-team and trap me on the last play,” said McLaughlin. ”I wasn’t worried about the first guy, but I was worried about the second. I was fully aware of the clock and once I was able to drag the second guy out as far as I could, I was looking for Elijah but he was covered, so I threw it up towards the rim and Chim made a play.”
Metu was in a perfect position to make the game-winning shot.
”I waited at first but then I got a good angle at the basket and got the pass and then made the play,” Metu added.
The game was tied nine times in the second half.
USC improved 11-3 at home this season and Oregon dropped to 4-6 on the road. USC snapped its seven-game home losing streak to the Ducks and defeated Oregon for the second time this season.
”We had to get more pressure on the trap,” Ducks coach Dana Altman said. ”But we didn’t get stops in the second half. They shot 60 percent and scored 44 points, so that was the first big key. And the second big key was we had a bad turnover (at the end), and we had some bad offensive possessions”.
OREGON: Though losing at USC, the Ducks, with their win over Washington State last Sunday, guaranteed they will have eight consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 1923-32.
USC: Stewart, Metu and McLaughlin have reached the 1,000-point career mark this season. Boatwright still needs 22 to reach 1,000. If he does, it would be the first time USC has had four players on a roster that have scored 1,000 since 2001-2002. But Boatwright, the second-leading scorer for USC at 14.2 ppg, still showed the effects of a foot injury that caused him to miss four games. He grabbed seven rebounds but failed to score for the first time this season. Midway through the second half, Boatwright hurt his knee while going for a rebound, left the game and did not return. Enfield said Boatwright will re-evaluated Friday.
DEROZAN IN THE HOUSE
Former USC and current Toronto Raptor Demar DeRozan attended Thursday’s game and spoke to the Trojans prior to the game. ”It means a lot that he would come in and speak to us, especially since what he’s done in the NBA,” Chimezie said.
USC guard senior Jordan McLaughlin is one 10 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, an honor presented to the nation’s top point guard. Entering Thursday’s game, McLaughlin was averaging 12.2 ppg, led the Pac 12 with 7.5 per game (third in the country) and was second in the conference with 49 steals.
OREGON: The Ducks play at UCLA on Saturday.
USC: The Trojans host Oregon State on Saturday.