Whatever bad taste was left in USC’s collective palette from its loss to Arizona Saturday evening, Tahj Eaddy seemed intent on washing it away Monday — and fast.
The redshirt senior guard drilled three 3-pointers in the first two minutes of action against Oregon, scoring USC’s first nine points and helping the Trojans build a 15-0 lead out of the gate. It was a sign of things to come: Eaddy scored 24 points on the night — 21 in the first half — and the Trojans cruised to a 72-58 victory over the Ducks.
Eaddy’s scorching hot first half, in which he hit five of his seven 3-point attempts, trailed Oregon’s entire scoring total before the break by just a single point.
“We made it a point of emphasis to come out with the right intensity tonight,” Eaddy said after the game. “We wanted to make that point tonight that we weren’t going for what happened against Arizona, so that’s what contributed to our big start.”
While Eaddy made the lion’s share of USC’s offensive contributions, junior guard Drew Peterson complemented his performance, scoring 15 points on 50% shooting from the field and from deep. Peterson’s two 3-pointers helped USC shoot 10-for-21 from beyond the arc.
Peterson did not start Monday’s game, a move Enfield said he made simply because “he needed to play better” after averaging six points on 29.6% shooting over the previous eight games.
“Coming off the bench woke me up a little bit. I talked with coach Enfield and obviously I’ve been shooting poor, and I lost a little bit of confidence,” Peterson said. “He just told me to get back at it and I really just came into the game trying to do a little bit of everything.”
Peterson also led the Trojans with 11 rebounds, which helped USC turn the page from a poor performance on the glass against Arizona. In that regard, the Trojans looked like a completely different team Monday, out-rebounding the Ducks by a 39-26 margin. USC has only lost one game this season when it has beat its opponent on the boards.
Once USC took an 11-0 lead in the opening frame, Oregon never got closer until a 3-pointer from senior guard LJ Figueroa made it a 10-point game at the 5:57 mark in the second half.
But the 3-point shooting that helped USC put Oregon into a hole as high as 26 points buried the Ducks yet again, as a 3-pointer by sophomore forward Max Agbonkpolo with just over three minutes remaining put USC up 13 and effectively iced the game.
USC handled Oregon without sophomore forward Isaiah Mobley, USC’s second-leading rebounder and third-leading scorer on the season entering the game. Redshirt senior forward Chevez Goodwin started in place of Mobley, who Enfield said is day-to-day with a calf strain.
The win also came on a night where freshman forward Evan Mobley had his quietest offensive performance in more than two weeks, scoring 11 points on just seven field goal attempts.
But the Trojans didn’t need Mobley to play like the No. 1 overall NBA draft pick he could become this year. They didn’t need him to be the center of the offense like he’d been en route to 20-plus-point performances in each of USC’s previous three games.
Monday was the Tahj Eaddy Show. And it was more than enough.
“He gave outstanding effort on both sides of the ball,” Enfield said of Eaddy. “For him to come out with that intensity, that focus and that shot-making was very impressive. He is a terrific offensive basketball player and he’s been so important to our success this year.
“He’s a lot better player now than he was two months ago and it’s fun to watch. When he gets on those scoring rolls, he’s hard to stop.”
USC’s win was pivotal in the race for the Pac-12 regular season championship, as the two teams entered play tied with each other and UCLA with three conference losses, fewest in the Pac-12.
The Trojans will hit the road for Boulder to take on Colorado Thursday at 6 p.m., in control of their own destiny as they vie for their first Pac-12 regular season championship since 1985.
“Every game’s important for us right now,” Enfield said. “Look, we’re fortunate to be 13-3 right now in the league … We’re just staying focused on game to game and we understand it’s really hard to win in this league and we have to bring it every night just to get a chance to win.”