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Floyd tries to keep team focused

This will require scare tactics from USC Coach Tim Floyd.

Everyone knows that Oregon State is the speed bump along the Pacific 10 Conference road. The Beavers have lost 21 consecutive conference games, including a 69-46 pasting by UCLA on Friday. They are bad with a capital B.

Such are the perceptions of the Beavers, and many of them are true. For example, Howard’s only victory this season was against Craig Robinson’s team. So, of course, the Trojans walk into Gill Coliseum today to collect the only road “gimme” on their schedule.

Such thoughts have had Floyd whispering sweet little somethings in his players’ ears.

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“I felt [Oregon State] won the second half [against UCLA],” Floyd said. “Maybe they had pregame jitters, but they played well and won the second half.”

It’s a sales pitch to players to keep from becoming the answer to the trivia question: Whom did Oregon State beat to end its losing streak?

“I’ve told our players [Oregon State] is going to win three or four games, minimum, at home,” Floyd said. “They are going to win games in conference and you don’t want it to be against you.”

The trouble is that the Trojans (10-3 overall, 1-0 in conference play) have big games on the horizon. A week from now, they host 12th-ranked UCLA, the preseason conference favorite, followed by a home game against 17th-ranked Arizona State.

“We have a big opportunity at home,” guard Daniel Hackett said. “I don’t see why we can’t go on a streak.”

But first . . .

“We have to take care of business on the road,” Hackett said.

Business has been good for opposing Pac-10 teams in Corvallis. The Beavers have won only five of their last 27 conference home games.

The Beavers (5-6, 0-1) did have a four-game winning streak before the UCLA defeat, but three of those victories came against Seattle Pacific (NCAA Division II team), Howard (payback for the opener) and Seattle (off the NCAA map since Elgin Baylor left).

Still, the Trojans know the pratfalls that occur away from home. A year ago, they opened conference play with losses at California and Stanford, part of an 0-3 start.

“We understand last year, when we came out 0-3,” center Taj Gibson said. “That set the momentum on a downhill slope. We don’t want that again.”

It takes a village

The Trojans had no business out-rebounding Oregon in their 83-62 victory Friday. Gibson played only 10 minutes in the first half. Leonard Washington is out because of a high ankle sprain.

Yet, USC had a 44-33 rebounding advantage.

“We need help from everybody on the boards,” Hackett said.

Hackett had nine rebounds, one shy of his career high. DeMar DeRozan had 12. Dwight Lewis had six. Marcus Johnson had five off the bench.

“I thought the rebounding from our guards was tremendous,” Floyd said. “Those things sometimes get overlooked.”

Lost in the crowd

Keith Wilkinson went about his job Friday, playing under the radar. He finished with eight points and made two three-point shots in the first half. The second gave USC a 31-24 lead.

“People forget about Wilkinson, but he made two big baskets when Taj was out of the game,” Floyd said. “The first 12 minutes we were a little shaky. . . . We were looking for someplace to get a basket.”

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chris.foster@latimes.com


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