EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — With four freshmen playing prominent roles, Oregon's growing pains have a way of cropping up when the Ducks can least afford it. Yet after giving back a comfortable second-half lead on Thursday night against Southern California, the foul line proved to be Oregon's salvation as the Ducks made a season-high 25 free throws to hold on for a 75-67 victory over the Trojans.
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — With four freshmen playing prominent roles, Oregon's growing pains have a way of cropping up when the Ducks can least afford it.
Yet after giving back a comfortable second-half lead on Thursday night against Southern California, the foul line proved to be Oregon's salvation as the Ducks made a season-high 25 free throws to hold on for a 75-67 victory over the Trojans.
"It's like, 'Oh, wow, we have a lead, so we can just chill out now,'" said Dillon Brooks, a freshman who's also Oregon's second-leading scorer on the season. "We have to keep going, step on their throat and beat them by 20.
"That's what we're really supposed to do."
Joseph Young scored 19 points and Elgin Cook added 15 to lead the way as the Ducks (13-6, 3-3) snapped a two-game Pac-12 losing streak with their ninth consecutive win over the Trojans (9-9, 1-5). Brooks finished with 12 points, and Jalil Abdul-Bassit had 11 off the bench.
Julian Jacobs and Katin Reinhardt led USC with 16 points each. Jordan McLaughlin added 14 and Nikola Jovanovic had 10 to go with 10 rebounds.
Jordan Bell, who went to the bench late in the game after taking an elbow to the face, finished with 13 rebounds as the Ducks grabbed a 45-37 edge on the boards. Young also had seven rebounds.
The Ducks scored 12 of their last 14 points on free throws.
Oregon needed those free throws after starting the second half in a defensive funk and shooting just 24 percent (6 of 25) from the field over the final 20 minutes.
"We give up easy baskets, we give other teams energy and then we struggle," Oregon coach Dana Altman said. "That's three games in a row for sure and then you add in the Arizona game, four of our last five games we've given up a lot of easy baskets."
USC fought back behind Reinhardt and Jovanovic to pull even at 61 with 5:40 left on Jacobs' three-point play.
However, the Trojans couldn't score again over the next five minutes as the Ducks were 7 of 8 on free throws during a clinching 9-0 run for a 70-61 lead.
"Coach just wanted us to drive more and attack the hoop more to put pressure on them to foul us," Brooks said.
The Ducks opened the game on a 16-2 run by hitting six of their first seven shots and with Bell, the Pac-12's second-leading shot blocker, rejecting two of USC's first six attempts. The Trojans climbed back with their own 12-2 burst, but they weren't able to pull closer than four points in the opening half.
Young had 13 points in the first half, including the 1,000th in his 53rd game as a Duck.
USC: The Trojans haven't won in Eugene since the end of the 2008-09 conference season when the Ducks were still playing at McArthur Court and current Washington State coach Ernie Kent was in his penultimate year at Oregon.
Oregon: Joseph Young's short jumper late in the first half gave the senior his 1,000th point as a Duck. He's the fourth Oregon player to reach that milestone in two seasons and the 33rd in school history. Young, who played his first two seasons at Houston, is 72 points shy of 2,000 for his collegiate career.
USC plays at Oregon State on Saturday.
Oregon hosts UCLA on Saturday.
LOVE FOR THE 3-BALL
The Ducks lead the Pac-12 in 3-pointers made (7.7 per game) after hitting 8 of 25 against USC, but they rank 10th in accuracy (34.7 percent). Oregon is averaging a conference-high 22.1 attempts per game behind the arc and shooting 50.5 percent from 2-point range this season.
BELL FINISHES ON THE BENCH
Jordan Bell added three blocks to up his Oregon single-season record to 66 before spending several minutes flat on the floor after taking an elbow to the face with 3:13 to play. Oregon coach Dana Altman said the 6-foot-9 freshman, after being attended to by trainers, wanted back in the game in the final minutes. "He was ready to go back in, begging to go back in there, but they had gone small," Altman said. "I could have had him in there to protect the rim (because) we got blown by a couple times, but I felt like we wanted to match up small and prevent the 3."