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USC basketball: Oregon State's zone, rebounding has Beavers ahead of Trojans at halftime, 37-27

January 15, 2011 |  8:48 pm

Usc1_325 USC struggled mightily against Oregon State's 1-3-1 zone defense last season, losing both meetings with the Beavers. But tonight, they're not seeing it exclusively. Rather, just a mix of it and a 2-3 zone. 

It doesn't matter what kind of zone USC faces, though. The Trojans aren't built to play against one. And they trail the Beavers at halftime, 37-27, at Gill Coliseum because of it.

USC has trailed for much of the game, but its deficit reached 10 when the Beavers closed the half on a 6-0 run. To be sure, the Trojans aren't playing terribly. They're shooting 43% (12 for 28) and six players have scored. Junior forward Nikola Vucevic leads the team with nine points.

What looks troubling for USC is that it's missing from outside, misfiring on eight of 10 from distance so far.

Most of its offense includes the guards passing the ball around the perimeter, which is eating up a lot of clock. When they do penetrate, and it has mostly been junior guard Jio Fontan doing that, not much comes of it.

To their credit, USC is taking care of the ball and only has four turnovers so far. In both games against Oregon State last season, the Trojans had 19.  But USC is not taking care of the ball when it comes to rebounding. Oregon State had outworked them on the glass and leads that category, 20-11. Six of those Beaver rebounds have been offensive, and Oregon State has six second-chance points. 

Oregon State's electric sophomore guard Jared Cunningham has 10 points to lead the Beavers, who are shooting 52% (13 for 25). 

Oregon State has made eight of 10 free throws. USC missed its only free throw.

There's obviously less buzz around tonight's game, as compared to two nights ago when USC played in the opener of Oregon's gleaming, $200-million Matthew Knight Arena, which is as fancy an arena as you can find.

Still, there's a strong crowd at Oregon State's 62-year-old Gill Coliseum, now the state's crustiest arena since Oregon's 84-year-old McArthur Court is officially kaput. 

-- Baxter Holmes, reporting from Corvallis, Ore. 

Photo: USC forward Alex Stepheson drives the baseline against Oregon State as Beavers guard Roberto Nelson (55) moves in to help on the play in the first half Saturday. Credit: Don Ryan / Associated Press