LAS VEGAS—USC is headed to the Pac-12 championship game after a 74-54 victory over No. 6 seed Oregon. Defense was the name of the game for the Trojans who held the Ducks to just 33 percent shooting on the night.
After the game, USC head coach Andy Enfield credited defense for carrying his team to the championship game.
Senior Elijah Stewart, who only scored two points in USC's quarterfinal match-up against Oregon State, posted 15 points and five rebound against the Ducks. He said it was his teammates "screaming" at him that changed his game. "[My teammates] said you're a senior, we need you to go out and score and be aggressive," Stewart said after the game.
And while the senior stepped up his game, it was sophomore Jonah Mathews who was the star of the game with a career-high 27 points on the night, going 7-for-9 from the 3-point line. He also posted three rebounds and three assists for the Trojans.
In the first half, USC held Oregon to just 23 points and 29 percent shooting. The Trojans ended the half with an 8-0 run over the last four minutes. At halftime, Stewart and Mathews combined for more points than Oregon had total.
The Trojans continued to bring the heat in the second half, going up 21 points on the Ducks with over 15 minutes to play. From there, Oregon was never able to get back into comeback range.
The one negative mark on USC's stat sheet is their 20 turnovers. Senior Jordan McLaughlin, who usually has no problem taking care of the ball, had half of his team's turnovers.
"Jordan McLaughlin had an off night," head coach Enfield said after the game, but was quick to point out that the Trojans lead the conference in fewest turnovers per game. But, 20 turnovers will not help the trojans win a Pac-12 tournament title tomorrow night.
The Trojans ended the night with 50 percent shooting, and 43.5 percent from beyond the arc. The team had three players score in the double digits.
USC will face Arizona in the championship game. The Trojans and Wildcats only met once this year, and the Wildcats came away with a 81-67 home victory.
The Wildcats are coming off a 78-67 overtime win against UCLA. In that game, star freshman Deandre Ayton scored 32 points and posted 14 rebounds.
The championship game tips off at 7 p.m. tomorrow night in Las Vegas.