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Last-second alley-oop leads USC past Oregon in back-and-forth battle

Jordan McLaughlin dribbled up the court and drew a double team as he looked for an open man.

The senior point guard lofted a long pass across the floor to Chimezie Metu, who stood alone under the basket.

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Metu caught the ball then laid it in with one second remaining.

Finally, after losing three Pac-12 Conference games on last-minute shots, the Trojans made a last-second basket of their own in a 72-70 victory over Oregon on Thursday in front of 4,322 fans at the Galen Center.

"I threw the lob to Chimezie," McLaughlin said after the game. "And he did the rest."

Said Metu: "I just wanted to catch it and put it in because I didn't know how much time was left on the clock."

McLaughlin tallied his third double-double this season, scoring 11 points and dishing 11 assists.

Metu finished with his ninth double-double of the season, scoring 18 and grabbing 10 rebounds.

"We just put the ball in our best players' hands," coach Andy Enfield said.

After losing three straight on the road, the victory was crucial for the Trojans in keeping their NCAA tournament hopes alive.

USC improved to 18-9 overall and 9-5 in the Pac-12 to maintain at least a share of second place in the conference standings. The Ducks fell to 17-9 and 7-6.

"This is huge win for us because we need every win down the stretch," Enfield said. "We have four games left and we have to hold our home-court advantage."

The Trojans might have to make their final push without a key player. Junior forward Bennie Boatwright, who has dealt with a nagging foot injury since December, suffered an apparent knee injury after a collision midway through the second half.

Teammates assisted Boatwright off the floor as he was unable to put any pressure on his left knee, the same knee that kept him sidelined two months last season because of a sprain.

"He's worked so hard to get back and stay healthy," Metu said. "It just sucked to see him go down like that."

Enfield said Boatwright would undergo an MRI scan to determine the extent of the injury.

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Boatwright finished 0 for 3 but had seven rebounds.

USC was led by sophomore guard Jonah Mathews, who made his first start in 10 games since solidifying a role off the bench.

Mathews finished with 20 points, including a pair of three-point baskets that helped cut into Oregon's seven-point lead and make it a one-point game going into halftime.

"We decided to just put him back in the starting lineup because he's been playing so well lately," Enfield said.

USC and Oregon traded baskets through most of the second half in a game that featured 15 lead changes. The Ducks were led by forward Mikyla McIntosh's 23 points. Guard Payton Pritchard scored 17.

UP NEXT

Saturday vs. Oregon State, 8 p.m. PST, Galen Center. TV: FS1 — The Trojans defeated the Beavers 74-67 last month in Beaverton to complete a sweep of the Oregon schools on the road for the first time since 2008.

Follow Lindsey Thiry on Facebook and Twitter @LindseyThiry

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