The USC Trojans continue to rise to the occasion, crushing Oregon 82-68 on Sunday night to advance to the Elite Eight. The Trojans gained the lead just under 10 minutes into the game and never looked back.
Redshirt senior guard Isaiah White delivered a performance of a lifetime. White’s combination of tenacious aggression and pristine shooting resulted in him tying his career-high with 22 points on 80% shooting from both the field (8-of-10) and beyond the arc (4-of-5).
Redshirt senior guard Tahj Eaddy showcased similar marksmanship, totaling 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting. As a unit, the Trojans shot 58.8% from three, their second-best percentage behind only last week’s victory over Kansas.
USC head coach Andy Enfield reflected on the significance of this win for his program after the game.
“It’s a big moment in USC basketball,” Enfield said. “It’s our second Elite Eight in the last 60 years — 2001 and obviously now. So it’s a huge win for our players, our program. But at the same time ... we have another game to play on Tuesday. And we’ll go give it our best shot.”
USC’s smothering defense forced Oregon to settle for undesirable looks. Even though the Ducks attempted 15 more shots than the Trojans, their 37.7% overall shooting proved insufficient compared to USC’s 57.4% clip.
The Trojans played lockdown defense in their zone schemes. As the tallest team in the tournament, USC disrupted Oregon’s offensive rhythm and trapped the Ducks into tough 3-point attempts late in the shot clock.
Nonetheless, Oregon’s best players left it all out on the floor. Redshirt senior forward Eugene Omoruyi gave USC the most trouble, posting 28 points and 10 rebounds, including seven offensive boards. Omoruyi became the first player in Oregon tournament history to have 25-plus points and 10-plus rebounds in a single game.
Senior guard Chris Duarte smoothly navigated his way to 21 points, six assists and five rebounds. Freshman center Franck Kepnang provided a jolt of energy off the bench, scoring all eight of his points in the second half in an attempt to mount a comeback. But outside of these three Ducks, the team only scored 11 points.
The Mobley brothers did most of their damage on the defensive end, totaling 14 rebounds and three blocks between the two. Sophomore forward Isaiah Mobley added 13 points offensively. In addition to a team-high six assists, freshman forward Evan Mobley had 10 points, including this dunk, where he baptized a challenging defender.
At the end of his postgame conference, Enfield made it a point to highlight Evan Mobley’s selflessness on the court.
“[Evan] was our fourth-leading scorer tonight, but he had six assists,” Enfield said. “So that just goes to show you how unselfish [he] is and what a great player he is … When your most talented offensive player is your most unselfish and willing passer, you can win a lot of games like that.”
USC will face No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga to determine the winner of the Western region of the bracket. After the game, White acknowledged the tough game ahead, but he knows why the Trojans will bring their best effort.
“The energy of March Madness; the crowd. We know what’s at stake,” White said. “It’s do or die. So everyone is just going out there laying it all out on the floor.”
The Trojans will fight for a Final Four appearance against the Bulldogs on Tuesday at 4:15 p.m.