It was just three days ago when Oregon had its heartbroken in decimating fashion, blowing a nine-point lead in the final minute to lose in overtime to UCLA.
How would the young Ducks, without their best offensive and defensive players, respond against a USC team on Sunday night?
The answer is quite well as Oregon knocked down a season-high 13 three-pointers as the Ducks defeated visiting USC 81-60, securing their first Pac-12 win of the season.
"The guys really responded well," Oregon head coach Dana Altman said. "The two practices we had Friday and Saturday they were upbeat and ready… I was really pleased with the way they practiced and came back."
It was a huge win for Oregon, not only because it helped put Friday night’s loss behind them, but it gave the Ducks a huge win before heading the road to the Arizona schools next week.
Senior Paul White has really emerged out of the shadows of five-star freshman Bol Bol. He tied his career-high with 19 points, knocking down 3-of-5 from beyond the arc while grabbing five rebounds.
“I’ve always known I could play — I just think it’s more so about assuming different roles for this team, I’m very willing to do whatever my team needs," White said. "The game has been coming to me, and I’m just trying to not force anything and luckily it’s been working in my favor."
Bol, who was averaging 22 points and 10 rebounds, announced at the beginning of the month that his college career was over after sustaining a stress fracture in his foot. Instead of rehabbing in time to maybe help the Ducks make a run at the NCAA Tournament, Bol and his family elected to let the foot heal and then begin preparing for the NBA draft, where he’s expected to be a top-five pick.
Freshman Louis King has also elevated his play since returning from a knee injury that caused him to miss 11 months, finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and a career-high six assists. His scoring ability was never in question, but the six assists have shown that he’s regaining is his feel for the game as his performances are becoming more and more complete.
“I think people are starting to see the talent that he is," White said of King. "He’s more than capable of continuing to produce... I’m happy for him. I know our team really needs that production."
The Ducks got off to a quick 6-0 start with King knocking down a three-pointer and a jumper. USC cut the score to 16-13 on a Jonah Matthews (team-high 15 points) layup but Oregon responded with a 10-0 run as King and White combined for seven of the points.
Oregon appeared to be cruising into halftime with a big lead, up 15 with 1:50 left. Much like Thursday night, the Ducks let their foot off the pedal and USC scored the final seven points before the break for some much-needed momentum.
This time, Oregon responded right away as Victor Bailey Jr. (10 points) and White combined to score the first five points after halftime.
From there, the Ducks kept pressing on offense and playing suffocating defense, bumping their lead to 26, 73-47, with 5:12 left in the game en route to the win.
"Seven different guys hitting threes, I liked seeing them sharing the ball like that," Altman said. "It was the first time in a long time that we shot the ball well."
Will Richardson added 11 points off the bench while Payton Pritchard finished with nine points (3-of-5 from deep) and five assists.
As a team, Oregon out-rebounded USC 35-24 and held the hot-shooting Trojans to just 5-of-18 (27.8-percent) from three-point territory.
Next for the Ducks comes the vaunted Arizona trip — the first time they’re hitting the road in three weeks since a matchup at Baylor. Oregon faces the Wildcats on Thursday with tipoff coming at 6 p.m. from the McKale Center. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.