LOS ANGELES, CA- Bennie Boatwright scored 20 points and Nick Rakocevic poured in 17 as USC (15-12, 8-6) demolished Oregon (15-11, 6-7) by a final score of 66-49.
USC improves to 12-4 at Galen Center for the season, with one home game left against Oregon State (16-8, 8-4) on Saturday. Boatwright shot 67 percent from beyond the arc, one game after making a record-setting 10 3-pointers against Cal. Thursday night marked his 17th straight game scoring in double figures.
“(Boatwright’s) feet are set, he’s taking good shots and passing the ball well,” USC head coach Andy Enfield said. “They were big shots for us.”
With his six 3-pointers against Oregon, Boatwright moved into third on USC’s all-time list for 3-pointers made (221).
“I don’t really pay attention to all that, all the stats,” Boatwright said in response to moving up the USC record books.
Trojans redshirt junior point guard Derryck Thornton scored 10 points and distributed four assists. USC’s primary wing guards (Shaqquan Aaron, Jonah Mathews, Elijah Weaver, and Kevin Porter Jr.) combined to snatch 20 rebounds. Five Trojans shot over 50 percent from the field.
“When you beat a team like Oregon like we did you need some of your players to step up and make those (shots). It was fun to watch,” Enfield said.
Six-foot-9 Oregon freshman Louis King posted 16 points, while guard Victor Bailey Jr. added 10 points for the Ducks. Redshirt senior forward Paul White contributed nine points for Oregon.
“Bennie really killed us,” Oregon head coach Dana Altman said. He added, “I was just disappointed in our energy level and balance, you know we just didn’t fly around.”
Thornton drove inside and pulled multiple defenders away from the rim. Rakocevic found space underneath, jumped and hammered down a Thornton lob. Boatwright splashed a 3-pointer moments later to give USC a comfortable 44-32 lead with nearly 12 minutes left. A Boatwright 3-pointer extended USC’s advantage to 13, as the Trojans coasted down the stretch.
“I’m in a good rhythm right now and my teammates have been able to find me,” Boatwright said.
After three straight minutes of missed shots and turnovers, Rakocevic scored the game’s first points. Oregon punched the Trojans in the mouth early, scoring seven unanswered points. The Ducks hot start forced a USC timeout four minutes in.
“We started out 1-for-6 with two turnovers and were taking bad shots, we were selfish,” Enfield said. “Our point guard play started out a little shaky, but Derryck (Thornton) and Elijah (Weaver) played great the rest of the game.”
As time winded down in the first period, USC made a push of its own. Mathews stole the ball and dished to Thornton for an and-one basket. The Trojans held Oregon to an empty possession and Thornton scored again, this time from the perimeter. USC took a 24-23 lead with 3:47 remaining.
— Blake Atwell (@blakeatwell5) February 22, 2019
Boatwright hit two foul shots to end the first half with USC leading 30-25. Boatwright led all first period scorers with 11 points and the Trojans held Oregon to 31 percent shooting.
After battling Oregon State, USC plays at UCLA, Utah, and Colorado. Oregon heads to Westwood for a date with UCLA (13-13, 6-7).
Oregon shot just 19 percent from 3 and turned the ball over nine times. USC outrebounded the Ducks by seven.
“The second half we rebounded at a very high level,” Enfield said.
The Trojans collected 20 assists and scored 30 points in the paint. The Trojans are 14-0 when recording 16 or more dimes. Oregon drops to 1-9 when opponents shoot a better field goal percentage.
Over the last four seasons, USC has won 86 games. The four-year stretch is USC’s winningest in program history.
Blake Atwell is a multimedia journalist and sophomore at Santa Monica College.