LOS ANGELES — USC men’s basketball escaped Thursday night with a win over Oregon State, but the fifth-ranked Trojans didn’t make it look easy against the lowly Beavers.
The defense was out of sorts early, allowing Oregon State to bombard the Trojans from 3-point range. The offense was out of character, shooting the ball from behind the arc rather than attacking the paint.
For the third consecutive game, all coming after a 19-day COVID-19 pause, the Trojans did not look like the team that went 12-0 prior to the outbreak. And with three games in five days this week, the Trojans haven’t had much time to work out the kinks.
“We are a little rusty, especially on the offensive end at times,” head coach Andy Enfield said following Thursday’s win. “We lost so much practice time that some of defensive concepts that we drill all the time and our offensive things we run … I think that’s hurt us. But there’s no excuses. We have to figure this out quickly and our players have to figure out how to get back to the flow.”
There were signs of encouragement in the second half Thursday. After the Beavers’ blazing start on offense, USC (14-1, 4-1 in Pac-12) limited the Beavers to 33.3% shooting in the second half. The Trojans closed the game on an 11-0 run after falling behind by one with 3:55 to play.
Still, that was against a 3-12 Oregon State team that has struggled to follow up its Elite Eight run from a year ago. On Saturday, USC will play Oregon (10-6, 3-2), which knocked off No. 3 UCLA on Thursday and will be looking for some revenge after losing to USC in the Sweet 16 in March.
“Now we’re bunching games in, just squeezing them in like we can,” Mobley said. “But it’s just what’s on our plate. We just gotta handle it.”
So the plan for Friday’s practice was to keep things light. Enfield and his staff planned to show the team some film and walk through some concepts on the practice court. But no scrimmaging or live work as the team tries to rest its legs before getting some time to regroup for a two-game slate next week.
“Well, I need a day off. I’m not going to get one,” Enfield quipped when asked about potential fatigue for the team. “They all want to play in the NBA and the NBA plays a lot of games. So if you want to play in the NBA, you’re gonna be ready to play on Saturday.”
Oregon (10-6, 3-2) at USC (14-1, 4-1)
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Galen Center
TV/Radio: Fox Sports 1/AM 790