Sometimes just getting a by-the-numbers home victory can be so satisfying.
For Oregon, coming off a tough four-point loss against Colorado on Sunday, its 89-81 victory in Eugene over No. 21 Southern California had to feel comforting. The Thursday night win got Dana Altman’s team to 15-4 overall and 4-2 in the ever-vexing Pac-12. This conference is going to have a whole lotta outcomes that will essentially cancel each other out. What’s going to matter in the end, when it comes down to handing out bids and deciding seeding, is seeing which teams won home games they couldn’t afford to lose.
You could argue Oregon dropping a home tilt against a conference title contender would be just that. USC has been one of the upstars in the league this season. And if we’re to believe that USC is in the midst of an NCAA Tournament season, then yeah, this was a nice win for the Ducks’ pile.
Elgin Cook had a big-time game, going for 26 points to lead all scorers. Chris Boucher added 16 points and nine boards for the Ducks. USC, which had only lost one game since the start of December (to Washington on Jan. 3), shot 44 percent from the field and 63 percent from the line. Andy Enfield’s team got 23 and 12 from Bennie Boatwright.
The Trojans are now also 15-4 overall and 4-2 in the conference.
This means Washington, which is 5-1 but lost by 32 points at Arizona a couple of weeks back, is atop the league standings.
USC will play at Oregon State on Sunday. It’s a game the 11-6 Beavers will need to keep their at-large hopes hanging in reality. If the Trojans lose there, things will get all the more weird in the Pac-12, and in general I’m on #TeamWeird2016Pac-12 this season. Oregon will play at home against UCLA on Saturday. The Bruins are as unpredictable as teams come in 2015-16, which is saying a lot, considering all this season has brought for college basketball.