They went deep to beat Ducks
Tim Floyd had no choice. With his starters hobbled by leg cramps and forwards Davon Jefferson and Taj Gibson having fouled out late against Oregon on Saturday at McArthur Court, the USC coach had no alternative except to turn to his bench.
It was a bench that had been outscored, 123-25, through the Trojans’ first six Pacific 10 Conference games.
Enter Angelo Johnson and Keith Wilkinson.
USC exited shortly thereafter with an unlikely 95-86 overtime victory over Oregon that was made possible in large part by the contributions of the reserves.
Wilkinson, averaging only 1.6 points and 11.8 minutes in Pac-10 games, made a three-point basket from the wing to give the Trojans an 80-74 lead in overtime.
The junior forward finished with four points, two rebounds, one block and one steal in 22 minutes.
Johnson followed several possessions later by finding Daniel Hackett open in the corner for a three-pointer that gave USC an 88-82 advantage.
And Johnson’s three-pointer from the corner with 23 seconds left extended the Trojans’ cushion to 92-84 and sealed USC’s third consecutive road sweep of the Oregon schools, a feat that hasn’t been achieved since 1966-68.
“We really don’t have any second thoughts having Angelo and Wilkinson in the game,” said freshman guard O.J. Mayo, who sat out the final 27 seconds of regulation because of cramps in his calf. “We doubt if they make any mistakes. The only thing they can do is make positive plays, and they did a great job.”
USC was spared some of the ugly fan behavior that occurred during the UCLA-Oregon game Thursday night at McArthur Court, where fans directed derisive signs and chants at Bruins freshman center Kevin Love, a prep All-American at Lake Oswego High near Portland, and his family.
In an attempt to curb fan misconduct, Ducks Coach Ernie Kent took a courtside microphone before the game against USC and implored fans to keep McArthur Court “one of the greatest college basketball environments in the country.”
Nevertheless, Oregon students toted several signs poking fun at Mayo.
Some flashed pieces of paper bearing a black-and-white picture of Hackett with the phrase, “O.J., please don’t punch me again.” Mayo was rumored to have punched Hackett during a pickup game in September, though both players said Hackett’s broken jaw resulted from an inadvertent elbow.
Another sign listed a mock Mayo course schedule, with classes such as “Sociology: Building an entourage” with instructor Reggie Bush and criminal justice with instructor O.J. Simpson.
Oregon students even took a shot at Trojans recruit Romeo Miller, still a high school senior. One wielded a promotional poster of the teen actor from his Nickelodeon show “Romeo!” with a USC logo pasted onto the chest and the word, “Why?”
Mayo, who had no turnovers in 41 minutes against Oregon, is one of 30 players on the midseason list of candidates for the John R. Wooden Award.