EUGENE, Ore. — The Oregon Ducks seemed more relieved than excited.
Joseph Young scored 21 points, including a key three-pointer that touched off a 12-0 Oregon run midway through the second half Saturday, and the Ducks defeated USC, 78-66.
"It's always important to get a win," said Jason Calliste, who finished with 18 points. "But just the way that we played was more satisfying, I guess you could say."
Oregon (15-6, 3-6 Pac-12) led by as many as 17 points and had 16 steals, finishing one shy of the school record. Young had a career-high six.
The Ducks had lost six of their last seven games after opening the season with 13 straight wins and climbing as high as No. 10 in the AP rankings.
Byron Wesley finished with 19 points for the Trojans (10-12, 1-8), who have lost seven in a row to the Ducks.
"They just came out and really punched us in the mouth," Wesley said.
USC, now 0-5 on the road in conference, was plagued by turnovers, finishing with a season-high 22. The Ducks kept them off-balance by pressing on defense.
"I feel like each game that we play, we're getting better on defense," Young said.
USC led 38-34 at the break, but Young's three-pointer, four straight points from Calliste and Ben Carter's layup gave Oregon a 53-44 lead with 12:02 left.
"They did a good job both halves on their full-court and half-court pressure and we seemed to fumble balls and dribble a few off our feet. We threw it out of bounds. Just some unusual turnovers that we usually don't make," USC Coach Andy Enfield said.
The Trojans jumped out to a 12-6 lead on Wesley's jumper, but Oregon responded with a 7-0 run capped by Young's layup and free throw to take a 13-12 lead midway through the first half. USC tied it at 25 after Pe'Shon Howard's three-pointer, but the Trojans didn't pull back in front until J.T. Terrell made a pair of free throws and Omar Oraby dunked for a 31-28 lead.
Up next for Oregon is No. 1-ranked Arizona in Tucson on Thursday. But first, the Ducks will get a little break.
"Let's enjoy the Super Bowl and take a day off and unwind," Oregon Coach Dana Altman said.
The game was played on Phil Knight appreciation night at Matthew Knight Arena. All fans were given a souvenir bobblehead of the Nike co-founder, who was celebrating his 76th birthday. During a timeout, the fans serenaded their most famous booster with "Happy Birthday."
Altman even joked about the bobblehead, given that two of the Ducks' players were suspended for the first nine games of the season for selling team merchandise, an NCAA violation.
"Make sure the team doesn't get any so we don't put them on eBay," Altman smirked, then added: "That's the first time I've laughed in a month."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times